Parrots in America are getting attention In this Wednesday, March 30, 2016 photo, Brooke Durham, who runs a parrot-rescue center, called SoCal Parrot, holds a parrot at her home turned parrot sanctuary, in Jamul, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Parrots in America are getting attention
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U.S. researchers are launching studies on Mexico's red-crowned parrot, a species that has been adapting so well to living in cities in California and Texas after escaping from the pet trade that the population may now rival that in its native country.
 
The research comes amid debate over whether some of the birds flew across the border into Texas and should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.
 
Parrots in U.S. urban areas are just starting to draw attention from scientists. That is because of their intelligence, resourcefulness and ability to adapt. There is also a growing realization that the city dwellers may offer a population that could help save certain species from extinction.
 
Parrots are thriving today in cities from Los Angeles to Brownsville, Texas. Meanwhile, in the tropics and subtropics, a third of all parrot species are at risk of going extinct. This is because of habitat loss and the pet trade.
 
Most are believed to have escaped from importers or smugglers over the past half-century. Tens of thousands of parrots were brought into the United States from Latin America.
 
Scientists only now are starting to study them.
 
After doing most of his research in places like Peru, Donald Brightsmith is concentrating on the squawking birds nesting in Washingtonian palms lining avenues and roosting in the oak trees in front lawns in South Texas.
 
"Parrots in urban settings are of great interest to me," the Texas A&M University biologist said. "I see these as kind of future insurance policies."
 
Brightsmith has received a two-year grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. They want to get an official count on the state's red-crowned parrot population and determine whether threats against them are increasing.
 
The research could help drive ways to maintain the population that prefers the cities and suburbs.
 
"It's more of an urban planning, landscape, ecology issue. And not so much how do we protect an area of pristine nature," he said. Brightsmith would like to team up with scientists in California.
 
Researchers want to someday study the gene pool. They want to determine whether there are still genetically pure red-crowned parrots that could replenish the flocks in their native habitat.
 
"We could have a free backup stock in the U.S.," Brightsmith said.
 
In Mexico, biologists are working on getting an updated count. The last study was in 1994.  It estimated the population at 3,000 to 6,500 birds. The total was a decline from more than 100,000 in the 1950s. This is because of deforestation and raids on the nesting young to feed the pet trade.
 
"We suspect the population in South Texas could rival the number found in the wild in Mexico," said Karl Berg. He is a biologist at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He received a grant to study the red-crowned parrot in Brownsville.
 
Biologists estimate the population at close to 1,000 birds in Texas and more than 2,500 in California, where they are the most common of more than a dozen parrot species.
 
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2011 listed it as an indigenous species. It is thought the parrots flew north across the border as lowland areas in Mexico were cleared in the 1980s for ranching and agriculture, though ornithologists debate that.
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that same year announced that the red-crowned parrot warranted federal protection because of habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade. It remains a candidate. The agency reviews it annually.
 
Some in the pet trade fear that a listing under the Endangered Species Act could prevent them from breeding the birds and moving them across state lines.
 
Conservationists question whether any of the birds are native to Texas and should be listed when there are so many species in need of protection in the United States.
 
"It seems odd to me," said Kimball Garrett, a parrot expert at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. "I don't know that there is enough evidence to show the birds flew for hundreds of miles from their native range and went across the border."
 
Brooke Durham said the birds need more protection. Durham runs a parrot rescue center. It is called SoCal Parrot and is in the town of Jamul, east of San Diego. The center treats up to 100 birds a year.
 
Recently at her sprawling home-turned-sanctuary, dozens of birds were being nursed for broken bones and pellet gun wounds. Most were red-crowned parrots.
 
Animal cruelty laws offer about the only protection for the birds in California. That is because they are not native to the state or migratory.
 
"People complain about the noise, but they're just not educated about the birds," she said. "They don't realize these birds are endangered."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why didn't these parrots get attention before?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (12)
  • dianner-2-bar
    4/27/2016 - 06:29 p.m.

    The parrots did not get attention before because there were not a lot of the birds here because they are endangered. I liked this article because the article said that the parrots are being noticed because of their "That is because of their intelligence, resourcefulness and ability to adapt." I found this article surprising because I had no idea that the parrots were endangered and that people found then annoying.

  • jacksonm-2-bar
    4/28/2016 - 06:26 p.m.

    The parrots did not get attention before because people thought that they were annoying. In hermosa we have parrots that make loud noises but we still love them. The scientists just started reserching about the birds because they just started to be extinct.

    I thought this article was interesting because i like birds.

  • jacks-6-bar
    4/28/2016 - 10:19 p.m.

    The red-crowned parrot didn't receive attention of this magnitude before because they weren't considered endangered and their strikingly magnificent adaptation abilities were never recognized. "Parrots in U.S. urban areas are just starting to draw attention from scientists. That is because of their intelligence, resourcefulness and ability to adapt." Because of the recognized ability of these birds' adaptation skills, scientists/biologists are now interested in them, as to find the motives or behavioral analyses of their compulsion to help out this species as well as others. However, before the birds began to settle in United States urban cities and areas, the red-crowned parrot was hardly regarded: biologists presently rave of the birds' wonder abilities, but, prior to their resettlement, they lived in their native land, which was Mexico (and some still do). The birds receive attention now because they showed their incredible resourcefulness and resilience to adapt to foreign conditions. However, the birds in Mexico being indigenous, they had nothing to adapt to: it was their native land. Therefore, they couldn't impress the world with their remarkable skills of intellect as far as adaptation goes; adaptation can only be done in non-local or non-uniform areas. Only when they moved to another, far different place, such as urban regions, did they gain fame; at that time they could finally show their incredible talents of adapting to environments swiftly and efficiently. Prior this, of course, they could not do so.
    The red-crowned parrots are also newly relevantly considered because they are up for speculation on whether they're endangered or not. Many environmentalists and other groups of the like argue "that the red-crowned parrot warranted federal protection because of habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade." The species is being debated on to accept or not accept the admission of the red-crowned parrot to the Endangered Species Act. Not only is the parrot sparking conversation and different viewpoints, but it also is plainly being considered for being endangered (which is probably probable). When a species is endangered, it means they are protected federally; the birds would acquire part of the full and undivided attention of the government. They wouldn't get this attention before they settled in urban cities, as the realization of this was absent until their resettlement, which sparked wonder and even sympathy. It being considered endangered played a part in the red-crowned birds' fame.
    The article was interesting: it was fascinating to see the behavior of the birds and the many methods to analyze them. It was also sad to see yet another species being forced out of its native territory because of death and destruction.

  • carlym-4-bar
    4/29/2016 - 02:03 a.m.

    These parrots haven't been getting attention before because they haven't been recognized for their special abilities. "ts in U.S. urban areas are just starting to draw attention from scientists. That is because of their intelligence, resourcefulness and ability to adapt. There is also a growing realization that the city dwellers may offer a population that could help save certain species from extinction." This quote explains how the parrots are starting to become popular and are getting attention.
    I enjoyed this article because I didn't know that parrots had special or unique skills.

  • ethanw-pro
    5/03/2016 - 12:16 p.m.

    the parrots didnt get attenion cuz no one cared

  • janettef-pro
    5/03/2016 - 12:18 p.m.

    They did not get a lot of attention before because there was not a lot of them

  • charliet-orv
    5/04/2016 - 04:13 p.m.

    Because it is a rapid decline in this species.

  • jaylynnj-Orv
    5/05/2016 - 01:22 p.m.

    I don't know why people are taking initiative now. Has ANYONE seen Rio? It's about an almost extinct parrot!

  • masons1-pro
    5/12/2016 - 11:34 a.m.

    Because the were not notified in the increase of the bird population.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    5/24/2016 - 08:07 p.m.

    I think that it is a little strange how the the parrots have been escaping the pet trade. They went from Mexico to California and Texas. They have been doing this for years but the scientists are only now looking into it. There are even places where they treat the red crowned parrots and help them to not be endangered.
    I think that these parrots didn't get attention before because now they are showing signs of adaptation.

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