“No, not really,” said Brooke Durham, founder of SoCal Parrot, a Jamul rescue group that went high-profile a couple years ago when OB parrots were killed by pellet guns.
Durham speculated the previous illegal culling of parrots has conditioned Obecians to being more aware of the presence of the exotic birds in their community. She noted it’s been almost exactly two years since the spate of OB parrot killings when “half the community was outraged.”
The culprit(s) in the parrot killings was never discovered.
“I think more people are aware that they [parrots] are here,” Durham said, adding parrots exhibit a seasonal migratory pattern.
“We have heard complaints, but also, we have heard lots of people who absolutely love the parrots and identify the parrots with OB,” said Denny Knox, executive director of Ocean Beach MainStreet Association. “There are many more parrots who are making OB their home. I’ve never seen so many parrots at any one time.”
“We do know the Amazons (parrot species) reside in East County in the late summer through early winter, after which they return to the beach areas,” Durham said. “There might be an uptick in the amount of birds overhead right now.” Durham added, more birds being seen now may be a function of seasonal migration and not “a massive population explosion.”
Berlant and Vincent Peppard, co-owners of Tropic Island Bird and Supply at 4760 Voltaire St., were divided over whether or not there are more parrots around now than ever before.
“Definitely not, Amazons, they come and go,” said Berlant.
“Yes, there seem to be a lot more,” countered Vincent. “Of course, that’s not scientific. But it seems there are more of them around this time of year.”
There’s one thing both Peppards agree on: There are more parrots clustered in East County at certain times of the year usually, than along the coast.
“I’ve seen parrots in flocks of 100 birds in East County,” noted Vincent.
Berlant agreed parrots are more preponderant inland. Though she was quick to point out there are “28 different varieties of Amazons ( in San Diego)."
Durham noted it is a commonly held misconception that Amazon parrots are native to San Diego. She said many of the birds have migrated north, one way or another, from Mexico, mostly to escape encroachment on their natural habitats.
“The climate is mild here,” she said, pointing out another reason why San Diego is attractive to the bird species.
“The food parrots eat is in our yards, even some of our bushes and [flower] blossoms that we don’t think of as having food for birds,” she said.
Added Durham, much of the native vegetation, like the California Coastal Sage Scrub along the coast, does not harbor any food sources for parrots. That’s another reason, she speculated, for why the exotic birds are not seen as much on the coast as they are inland, where wild fruits are more available to them.