Pasadena Star-News
Tuesday, September 2, 1997
By Evan Henderson

Loathed, loved and loud
Proliferating wild parrots evoke mixed emotions

Temple City--The wild parrots of the San Gabriel Valley have come home to roost.  Wherever they originally came from--and the stories are legion--the flock of noisy green squawkers now migrates around the Valley from Pasadena to Arcadia, from Sierra Madre to El Monte.

Wherever there are trees, fruit-bearing trees in particular, the parrots can be found.  "Whenever I get a call, it's to complain that they're loud or they're ruining somebody's tree,"  says Howard Weldon, Temple City's animal control officer.  "One guy said he couldn't stand it. He said, 'We have to get the cities together to eliminate these birds.'

" Well good luck, buddy."

In Temple City, the birds have left more than discarded fruit rinds, droppings and angry residents. Keith Morris and his wife Robin have raised and adopted two parrot chicks from the wild.  The parents of Cookie and Goofy were part of the flock of redheaded Amazon that, according to lore, have patrolled the skies since a fire decades ago at the long-since-closed Simpson's Garden Town in East Pasadena necessitated an avian evacuation.

But whatever drew the larger flock to Temple City, these birds in particular built a nest in a tree on Temple City Boulevard slated for the ax.  That's where the 2-week-old chicks were discovered by city tree worker Rob Cruz.  Cruz was unable to care for the chicks.  So he called Morris, who is the top of the city's parrot adoption request list.

It's a tricky business.  Birds recovered from the wild frequently have wing injuries.  If they aren't properly taken care of, they can't be rehabilitated to return to the wild, Weldon said.

"The ones I've gotten usually don't survive.  It's the shock of being in captivity," he said.  "You take them to the animal shelter and the next day they'll be dead."

Uninjured chicks, in the other hand, have a better chance both of surviving and being domesticated.  They may be somewhat ugly as newborns, but they end up being great pets, say Temple City officials.

Cruz, who named pet Larry Bird, says his parrot is fixated on routines.  Larry Bird knows he will be fed and have his head scratched at a certain time every day.   "He's very lovable and dependable and I'm amazed at how tame he is,"   Cruz said.

Morris agrees.  An Arcadia native who has seen the wild parrots all his life, Morris says many would-be pet owners don't know parrot protocol.  For example, commercial bird seed isn't a particularly healthy diet for parrots, he says.  The birds seek out fruit and nut trees because that's the kind of meal they prefer.

"Their colors tend to match the trees they're in," said Morris.   "So you wouldn't know they're in there until the tree looks like it's moving."

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