Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lilac-crowned Parrot

Lilac-crowned Parrot
Lilac-crowned Parrot. Point Loma, San Diego, California. February 9, 2014. Greg Gillson.
San Diego has many introduced birds flying about. Besides the continent-wide House Sparrows, European Starlings, Eurasian Collared-Doves, and domestic pigeons, ducks, geese, and chickens, there are Orange Bishops, Pin-tailed Whydahs, Black-throated Magpie-Jays, Nutmeg Mannikins, and perhaps a dozen types of parrots and parakeets.

Last week I drove through Point Loma on a brief exploratory visit. Point Loma is a community and huge peninsula that separates the Pacific Ocean from the northwest side San Diego Bay. It has upon it a university, several military installations, the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Sunset Cliffs, Cabrillo National Monument including the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and residential neighborhoods. The marina is on the bay side of the base of the peninsula, where one departs for pelagic trips. It is only a mile or two from the San Diego International Airport.

This westernmost point of land grabs more than its fair share of rare birds in migration and winter. I had been a bit apprehensive of driving through the military cemetery to look for birds. But it turns out you have to drive through it to visit Cabrillo National Monument. I turned around without going in to Cabrillo because it is a fee area and I wasn't going to be staying on this visit. And I didn't have time to look for some of the rare warblers, tanagers, and other goodies that have been wintering in the cemetery. I still have plenty of common birds to find before I chase too many of the rarities.

However, I did hear this horrible grating screech and pulled over to photograph 6 parrots--my first psittacids of San Diego County. The only parrot currently countable in California is the Red-crowned Parrot. I wasn't sure what species this was when I quickly got out of the car and took the photos. I have settled on Lilac-crowned Parrots, as the red isn't extensive enough and the blue (lilac, even) crown too extensive for Red-crowned. It is also called Lilac-crowned Amazon and Finsch's Amazon, and is native to the Pacific slope of Mexico. So, pretty, but obnoxious and not countable on my ABA list.

Lilac-crowned Parrot