The wild parakeets of Palo Alto


William Wang is part of the information technology team over at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, but on his way to work he had an experience much older and wilder than any technology. So he wrote to the Book Haven.

Here’s how it happened: As he crossed the intersection of Loma Verde and Alma, he recalled: “I heard a strange bird call and saw a flock of these guys up in a redwood. I didn’t bother getting closer since they were high up, but after I got in my car to go to work and stopped by a shorter tree next to the redwood, I looked up and saw a bunch of them with their green feathers.”

“A local bird rescue has one of the individuals from this supposed flock, and it’s described as a Cherry Head/hybrid, so I’m guessing it’s half parakeet and half conure.”

Half parakeet, half conure (Photos: William Wang)

He continued, “I found your blog post from 2020 after doing a little research and figured I’d send you photos and sentence or two about my sighting of the critters. They are quite photogenic, but unfortunately I was in a rush to get to work so I didn’t have time to stick around and get a better shot.”

He found the Book Haven post from three years ago: “The wild parrots Telegraph Hill are famous – but have you seen the parrots of Palo Alto?”

From the post:

How Did They Get Here?
They were brought here to be sold as pets in the exotic pet trade. The U.S. was the largest importer of birds in the world before the government banned the trade of wild exotic birds in 1992.

How Did They Get Out?
The founders of the wild flock of conures either escaped or were released.

So what about the Palo Alto birds? They are said to be escapees from Monette’s Pet Shop on California Avenue. I remember it well from years ago. According to one post, a few took shelter in trees just on the south side of Oregon Expressway. Could these be these rugged birds?

Beware! Beware! They are not as innocuous as they might seem:

“Years ago there was a flock of about a dozen who were all over the place in our city. Two local churches had to have work done on their roofs to evict the parrot flock from carving out little caves in the eaves.”

And this: “Many years ago we heard the sound of ripping wood in our attic. I thought it was some aggressive rodent, but when I took a look a saw… a conure I guess making a nest !?!?”


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