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Mike Bowles & Loretta Erickson | Oct 17, 2006


Photographing the wild parrots of Southern California ( is a challenge and a joy—a mysterious puzzle with ever changing twists and turns where each season leads to an exciting new discovery.  It’s an action-packed, fun-filled world where wild parrots have become distant friends and their lives intertwined with ours.

My partner, Mike and I began photographing the wild parrots of Southern California in 2001.  Much to our surprise, the more we saw, the more we wanted to see.  Poring over our photographs, we realized there was much more going on here than meets the eye and we soon found ourselves recognizing individual members of the Amazona flock.  We also realized it was possible to keep track of identifiable individuals through our photos.  In our home, it’s commonplace to hear such daily comments as “Hey, I saw Notol and Ripley (Blue-fronted Parrots) heading east along the freeway!” or “When was the last time we saw Dea (Rose-ringed Parakeet)?  I saw him headed for his favorite park this morning.”

This all came about some 25 years after my first sighting of a local wild parrot and two years after a precious companion parrot by the name of Sydney (Yellow-headed Parrot) came into our lives. 

Leave it to Sydney—he was at the core of our quest.  It was his presence in our lives that deeply inspired our search for Southern California’s wild parrots and in a twist of irony led us face-to-face with the cold, hard reality of how desperately parrots everywhere need our help. 

Our human-parrot family has grown since then with the addition of our little boy, Keyta (Blue-fronted Parrot).  Today, we are constantly reminded of the guilty pleasures of sharing life with our little green homebodies.

Only in California!

Where else on this wonderful planet would someone have the opportunity to see a Red-crowned (Amazona viridigenalis), Lilac-crowned (Amazona finschi), Yellow-headed (Amazona oratrix), and Blue-fronted (Amazona aestiva) Parrot along with a Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) all perched in the same tree right down the street from a Senegal (Poicephalus senegalus) and within sight of a foraging flock of Mitred Parakeets (Aratinga Mitrata)?  Only in California! (Well, maybe Florida too.)



Rose-ring, Yellow-head, Red-crown, Lilac-crown (head buried) & Blue-front


Behind our photos are stories of a flock of wild parrots that aren’t supposed to be here, whose elder members could quite possibly be some of the original birds who survived importation only to fly free once again.  Stories of a band of parrots—some of which would never catch a glimpse of each other in their native ranges, but here these species have become dedicated companions, bonded friends and flock-mates.

In another twist of irony—while man was so depleting some of these birds in their native ranges, he was also unknowingly creating an ideal environment for them to survive elsewhere.  Though only certain species have “made it” here— there surely must be some poetic justice underneath it all.

Our special thanks to the WPT for inviting us to share the lives of these amazing birds and our experiences with them.  We hope you will enjoy this truly unique and exciting account of misplaced parrots who have created a new life in a new land.  Sounds like a familiar story, doesn’t it?