Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Parrots of Winter

The Parrots of Winter

A Guest Blog By


Cold, rainy days seem to bring out the parrots. Flocks of 400 birds are common, and those up to 700 are not unheard of. That they can fly at all is probably as remarkable to them as it is to me. Flailing and thrashing to stay aloft, they barely overcome gravity. They are immune to gracefulness, both in their aeronautics and in their natural voice; they screech as they flog the wet air with voices that remind one of nothing more than bad brakes on a pumper truck.

No one can agree on their origin in Pasadena. Some argue that a few pets just escaped and flourished into the flocks, others tell stories of a traveling circus the parrot cart of which wrecked. Some say the Ritz Carlton hotel used to keep an aviary full of them for the entertainment of its winter guests and let them go when the guests got tired of them. The local historians only admit that it’s a mystery.

The green Amazons and African Grays don’t migrate. If you ever saw them fly, you’d understand why. Why they flock and fly in the winter is anyone’s guess. Mine is that the tropical birds must fly to keep warm, and it sounds as though they fly under protest, so I’m sticking with that hypothesis.

California is unlike Alabama in so many ways. One of them is that winter is when California is green. About the time the dogwood and redbuds bloom so conspicuously and gloriously there, California will revert to its tawny, dry norm. The parrots feast on grass and other seeds now, and will be fed by thousands of happy volunteers the rest of the year. So much so, that they seldom flock, but hunker in every neighborhood and silently enjoy the good life.

Non-native as they are, the parrots have assimilated to an urban environment, same as the red-tailed hawks and crows that more elegantly decorate the local skies. Perhaps, out of their natural element, the parrots approach symbiosis with us humans now. If for no other reason than to see their comical attempts at flight, I’m for it.

Thanks to our West Coast corespondent and publicist for this beautiful story. We hope it will be the first of many he sends us.


We've heard that during the storms Thursday night, many of the sirens in Colbert County weren't working. As far as we know, the power remained on over the entire county, but if that had not been the case, the sirens would have been only too necessary. Let's hope Mike Melton and associates have them ready for our usual spring tornado season.