Wild parrots can be spotted in Phoenix neighborhoods

Posted at 10:01 PM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 16:59:24-04

The Valley is a long way from the tropics, and yet wild parrots can be spotted in neighborhoods across metro Phoenix.

Rosy-faced lovebirds have been spreading for years. They're easily the most colorful flying creatures in the desert. However, it takes some skill to spot them, and it's by sheer coincidence that they're here at all.

If you find the right neighborhood and look up into thick palm trees, you might see the hustle and bustle of brightly colored birds.  

"We have palm trees, which is very much like the trees they live in Africa," said Greg Clark, a burrowing owl conservationist with Wild at Heart.

Clark has been tracking lovebird colonies on his website since the 90s. 

He said the colonies were most likely started by two big lovebird releases in the 80s. One was an aviary in Apache Junction that released around 100 birds when it was destroyed by a monsoon. 

Clark said the other was an aviary in the North Valley where the owner simply threw open the doors when he decided he didn't want the birds anymore. 

In online community chats, they're mistaken for escaped pets or parakeets. That's probably because they just don't belong. In fact, just about anywhere else these pint-sized parrots would die in the wild.

But Phoenix is almost identical to their native Namibia. They've thrived over the past 20 years, moving from mainly the East Valley to neighborhoods all over the metro area. 

"They are all over Scottsdale. They are all over central Phoenix, and now they're all over Ahwatukee," Clark said.

Technically, they're an invasive species Clark said it's okay to enjoy them because they don't seem to bother the native birds.