It Caught My Ear: Cacophanous Conures

So in biking back home from the Rose Bowl after volunteering as a course marshal for the seventh stage of the Amgen Tour of California yesterday afternoon, I opted for the scenic route along Arroyo Drive through Pasadena and South Pasadena, and that decision was rewarded with an awesome encounter at Magnolia Street of a large and raucous flock of feral red-masked (aka cherry head) conures — at least 40 strong by my unscientific count. The far more widespread yellow-chevroned parakeets found noisily all over the area (I wrote about them here back in January 2008) ain’t got nothing on the cacophony generated by these feathered fiends. In fact I heard ’em before I saw ’em and so of course had to stop for some vid/snaps.

Apologies that the capture conditions couldn’t have been much lamer. The birds were backlit by leaden skies and the sun was way off on the right stuck behind the overcast. But nevertheless: behold at least the silhouettes and sounds of an amazing find:


13 thoughts on “It Caught My Ear: Cacophanous Conures”

  1. Actually Michele, I think the residents are pretty desensitized to them. The ones I could sew were far more interested in me taking the birds’ pix than in the birds.

  2. As a former South Pas resident, I can tell you that (for the most part) I stopped hearing them after a while. Occasionally, when they got really wild, they would break through and get my attention. They seemed to get most active every evening right around dusk. It was fun when friends who weren’t desensitized to it would come over around that time. One once said, “Holy shit, it’s ‘The Birds!'”

  3. I hate those farking birds. Noisy. Messy. And worst of all the chase away all the native song birds. We need to put a bounty on them.

  4. Just a friendly suggestion fraz, if there’s hating to be done try to deflect some from the birds and hit whoever the humans were who purchased them as pets and then provided opportunity for them to escape. While certainly a nonnative nuisance I find it hard to blame the conures for just finding a way to survive and thrive.

  5. The birds have been flocking around here for close to 50 years and rumors abound on how they took hold here in the SGV. I’d put a huge bounty on the owners/pet store that let them all free as they truly are a menace to the local environment.

    Think about it a minute if they were a non-native weed that chokes out native plants, clogs rivers etc and everyone finds a way to eradicate. We’re doing all we can right on the Santa Clarita, San Gabriel and other streams in So Cal with bamboo. Same problem only one is a bird, not a plant, but still an invasive non-native disrupting the environment.

    I totally understand your point but they need to be eradicated as they are wreaking havoc on our native birds. Taking their food sources and nesting spots. Very aggressive in chasing them out and they have only one predator. Hawks. The only time we have peace and quiet is when the nesting pair we have on our street takes up residence for about 6 months every year.

    I understand your point completely, even respect it, but I look at it differently as I miss the native birds I’ve taken care of for years until the parrots arrival in my ‘hood 4 years ago.

  6. Rollerzz nailed it: we’re the biggest havoc-wreaking non-native species of them all.

    But just so you know fraz, I greatly appreciate and respect your pov as well. Every time I see arundo choking the LA River or yet another stand of pampas grass taking over a hillside above Highway 1 I get frustrated. I’m not against the birds removal because I know what an imbalance they’re causing (and far more so in your slice of the region than mine).

    It’s doubtful because of the costs involved but it would be nice instead of being destroyed if they could be caught up and relocated to their natural habitat.

  7. At least we can debate respectfully. I’m thinking humane means ie birth control options set in their current nesting sights to let the population fall through attrition and allow our native species to return.

    To get the debate going another direction. I don’t think humans are an infestation unless you buy into the whole scientology bs that we were planted here by some aliens in flying saucers. The human animal is a natural roaming predator. As such we’ve expanded our range over the eons. We belong where we show up. I’ll toss in however we do need to learn to get along with the other species in the area we live if we are to be good neighbors, and we don’t always do that too well.

  8. I appreciate you recognizing that we’ve got a long way to go as a species in becoming good neighbors and stewards, but given the havoc we’ve wreaked and the species we’ve displaced and destroyed over those eons of predatory and exploitative expansion past and future, I can only marvel at how quick you can accord man the privilege of belonging “where we show up” and yet so quickly call for a flock of birds to be culled for essentially doing the same exact thing (and they showed up here because of us).

    I don’t think a subscription to any organization’s explanations is necessary to see that man is a plague. I certainly don’t base that belief on Scientology’s teachings, I base it on what I’ve been shown we’re capable of. As such, I’ll even go it one further step down the darkness: “infestation” is a nice way of putting it. As humans we are a parasitic virus and earth is our host. Barring a radical reversal, we will ultimately consume and destroy her and any other planets “where we show up.”

  9. I feel like I just stepped into “The Matrix.”

    Agent Smith: “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

  10. Hey Will, thanks for picking up the ball and running with it. I was just a little to busy today to take the time to expound, but you captured the essence of what I was after.

    I think the human race was probably fine when we were hunter-gatherer-predators that lived in caves and makeshift shelters, but once we settled down and began cultivation, it wasn’t long before our big brains developed the technology that has allowed us to make a lot of negative impacts on the planet.

    Not that I’m a Luddite that thinks there’s any going back, but our species is going to have to deal with this impact sooner rather than later.

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