Aug 29

The wild Amazons in San Diego are usually Red-Crowned Amazons (aka Mexican Red-headed Parrots) a species that is endangered in the wild.

Red-Crowned Amazon Features

  • Bright, solid green with bright red forehead
  • Tinge of blue bordering the red
  • Pigeon-sized
  • Usually in groups of 3-5 or more
  • Sounds: loud raspy chattering, especially in morning & often while flying
  • Feed in large variety of trees with fruits, berries, seeds or nuts.


Another common San Diego species that looks a bit similar is the Cherry-headed Conure, which is a bit smaller, has a more prominent all-red head, and white around the eyes.


Click to enlarge

(Photos by SoCalParrot.org)

Aug 29

African Grey Parrot / Carly Lu Features

  • Body is all grey, lighter underneath with darker grey wings
  • Bright red tail
  • Pigeon-sized, but more torpedo- or potato-shaped
  • Perches in the open on wires or buildings more often than Amazons. Also likes tall eucalyptus trees and large scrubby bushes.
  • Sounds: loud whistling, beeps, pops, electronic noises. Longer, clearer tones than Amazons or Conures.
  • May do a loud, raspy “war whoop” when flying, or whistles, beeps, etc.
  • Often found in same area as foraging Red-crowned Amazons.
  • Flight is faster, smoother & less “flappy” than Amazons



Click to enlarge

Where have all the Amazons gone?

Posted by Raz on Aug 29th, 2014
Aug 29

After the 2-in-one-day sightings of August 1st at the far northwest and far northeast of Pacific Beach, there has been a long lull. Some 3rd hand reports, and some strange calls, but nothing very firm. What’s odd is that the Red-crowned Amazons that she was usually near, and sometimes spotted with, have also gone silent. During the SoCal Parrot mini-count on August 23 — with spotters visiting NW Pacific Beach up into Mt Soledad, Ocean Beach/Pt Loma and Coronado — the only sightings were conures.

Anyone seen Amazon flocks around San Diego in the last week or so? See the How to Spot Red-Crowned Amazons post to tell them apart from the conures that also frequent this area.

The only Greys reported recently were in Coronado, which I’ve now searched and posted pretty well. In fact, when a Coronado resident’s Grey escaped and was found, the finder got a barrage of messages telling him to contact me. It turns out that bird lives about half a block from where one was sighted up on a telephone wire. Another report near there was of 2 Greys. A couple doors down is a house with a Hyacinth and a Scarlet Macaw also, so maybe the Greys — Carly? — were investigating. Seems like a long distance, but from south Mission Bay it’s about the same distance to north Pacific Beach or Coronado if you go by air.

The excitement this week was when someone called with a Carly sighting — two sitting on a wire by their house in the Nautilus St area of Mt Soledad, where I’ve been hoping to find the Amazons. They rushed out to find one of the posters they had seen and called while the birds were still there. Then I rushed over and searched (they had flown while I was driving) but didn’t see anything parrotlike at all until 2 Cherry-headed Conures flew into a sycamore two doors down from the caller’s house, at — of all the strange street names — Avenida Bizarro. I walked back over to talk to them again, a woman and her 10-yr old daughter. “Did you get a good look at the color?” Mom: “Not really, they had the sun behind them. Did you see what color they were?” Daughter: “Green.” [facepalm]

Bizarro World African Greys


Posted by Raz on Aug 10th, 2014
Aug 10

Nothing like walking around with amplified parrot calls to feel like a contestant for Neighborhood Nuisance of the Year. (Actually — surprisingly — no complaints. Just stares.)

I hit the last 2 sighting areas in PB (from August 1) and points in between, including Kate Sessions Park which has a great vantage point for broadcasting to areas below. Megaphone works great with the recorded YouTube audio of Greys. Range is certainly larger than anything I’ve done so far, which means I don’t have to walk every single street. However I still need to be in the right area… Next sighting I’m ready. Thanks Bev Moody for the suggestion and loan.

I had a call when I was at the beach from a person in neighborhood up above saying he thought he heard my bird. Another guy came running out of his house because he thought he heard Carly. So that’s good in 2 ways: someone is listening for her, and recording can be heard for a good distance.

Met quite a few people who were aware of the search. But also found lots of posters that I put up last week are already gone. If anyone is going to be anywhere around Pacific Beach, La Jolla, or Ocean Beach, it would be really helpful if you could print out even a couple flyers and post in some public area. Particularly good spots are laundromats, bus stops, coffee shops, and bike/walking paths.

The flyer link is here: http://tinyurl.com/FINDCLU. It prints 2 to a page.

I also discovered a roosting spot. Half a dozen Amazons flew into a tall Queen Palm in a residential area around 7:00, half an hour or so before sunset. There was a little chattering initially, but I managed to see just one of them with binoculars. Within just a couple minutes they’d tucked themselves way in the center of the crown. You’d never know they were there, and well before dark.

No pictures of me walking around with a megaphone, binoculars, whistle and backpack. Just visualize a complete dork.

Theoretical Parrot Dynamics 1

Posted by Raz on Jul 16th, 2014
Jul 16

1a. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Parrots

At any given moment, you can only determine one of the two pieces of information that will allow you to predict their next location.

1b. The Fractal Theory of Parrots

Each new detail learned about a parrots location reveals an infinite number of details you still need to know.

Wednesday outpost: Crown Point

Posted by Raz on Jul 16th, 2014
Jul 16

Another sighting today after 2 days of nothing and a very very low Monday. There was a promising sighting in Pacific Beach Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, a few blocks from the beach north of the lifeguard tower. I had no signs in the area but the woman remembered seeing us on teevee and called right away. Good description of both visual and sound, even though in flight. But I put in a long 6 hour search until dark, and nothing. No calls Monday or Tuesday. Kind of hit rock bottom Monday. Sunday’s sighting was in a slightly new area with so many residences and so many trees. It was a daunting area to cover and target my remaining flyers. And it came in the middle of my proclaimed Day of Rest, just as the WC final went into extra time..,

Pubbus interruptus

Pubbus interruptus

Today’s call came because she saw one of those flyers yesterday that I put up Sunday.

It was also pretty quick, from the Crown Point neighborhood of MissionBay. Plus she also had a sighting confirming the other one Sunday. Almost exactly the same spot and time.

The woman today is a parrot owner, as was the previous one, as was the one before that, as well as the one who called in the very first good sighting. Good thing we’re out there!

Anybody needs me, this is my office for today. My neighbor, Saint Sylvia, just delivered my laptop and stack of “Find Carly” cards I printed last night (and of course left at home when I rushed out!) Plus, shaved ice! Tried to get some on my jog down PB Sunday and discovered I had no wallet, no water. A mile or two from my car. (Yes Sarah Fields, I don’t have to go begging at Trader Joe’s today. Thanks for bringing emergency relief supplies Sunday :-)

This is the kind of place I normally take Carly to get her “people fix” — so she doesn’t obsess over socializing when we go flying. Now what — Amazon hangouts? See you at the Carrotwood Cafe. Saturday night at the Beach Shower Bar & Grill.

Going to try to intersperse some biking and posting with working here today. It takes so long to drive into PB from anywhere I feel like I should just camp out. Wonder if Campland has vacancies.

Not Your Ordinary Breakfast

Posted by Raz on Jul 11th, 2014
Jul 11

Friday AM update: Yesterday’s walking, talking and posting mileage nets a useful lead.

No reports yesterday, but I covered & posted Campland well (near golf course). Lots of trees, campers, and dauntingly huge. Targeted groups with nice outdoor set ups for eating & lounging. Little market posted signs, “rangers” are on watch, kids on bikes looking. Plus they serve ice cream, cocktails, and have Polynesian dance shows on Sat eves. This is not your ordinary campground. Perhaps perfect for Not Your Ordinary Bird.

Locations in Campland easily eliminated.


Checked & posted Tecolote Canyon Nature Ctr at other end of my area. A persistent tip of hearing Carly at night from houses nearby, but I can’t verify so far. Near other early possible sightings. There’s trees, water in a creek, golf course, trails. Hit business district on the way home, eating places, coffee shops, local hydroponic pot growing store, fire station. And from the last flyer posted…

A call this morning at 5:45 from woman who catches 6 am bus and has seen a Grey, and companion, fly across toward the bay in early morning, and back from bay heading inland in late afternoon before sunset. Multiple days, including last night. She used to have a grey and described differences from wild amazons without being prompted. Shr heard it calling in the air, which is typical of her first flights of the day.

So this is potentially a very good lead on her roosting habit right now. I did that neighborhood and the bay rounds 6-8:30 this morning, and posted more signs. I saw 2 birds crossing into bay area around 7:00, with diff flight than amazons, one doing funky jukey dives over the water (also typical of her first flights each day) but couldn’t see where they stopped. If they kept going in straight path they’d end up around DeAnza trailer park or Campland.

Which is why I’m now having breakfast here.

Gotta go do some paying work now.

One on One with Piper Poo

Posted by Raz on Jul 10th, 2014
Jul 10

Thursday AM update. No new reports yesterday. I took Piper flying at the bay for a couple hours, to get him some much needed exercise and see if Carly might join him if she was nearby. He got in some nice long flies, played in the trees & enjoyed the sunshine. Then flew home. We hung out in the garden until sunset while I watered and pruned. He’s been extremely alert to the wild parrot sounds and any kind of whistling he hears. Freezes in his tracks and listens.

I did get 3 or 4 calls while he was flying yesterday. A test of the emergency alert system — it works!

It’s been sad to see him react to his only bird flock-mate and pal being missing. I can really see how much behavior is related to “the flock” (me and Carly) being present and OK. My dear neighbor Sylvia whistles with him when he’s on the patio and I’m away, which I’m sure makes him feel a bit more connected (or at least entertained!)

There was a short spell of disinterest in food and extreme quiet, but aside from that the biggest difference I’ve noticed is in general activity level. He’s typically always on the go, playing with toys, getting into anything and everything, and it appears very independent. But it’s independent within the context of a group or pair. I keep thinking about how parrots in wild flocks are active and noisy when everything is OK, and still and quiet when there’s danger. Noisy = all clear, quiet = caution. It must feel really strange to not have the usual “all clear” activity around him. I’m doing a lot more talking when I’m home, and making contact calls of some sort when I’m not in direct sight.

But it’s also been interesting to get to know him better as a “solo” bird. He’s always been one of a pair before, and they interact quite a lot. Though Carly would probably consider “interact” a bit of a euphemism sometimes; he’s fond of pinning her foot to the perch with his so he can “interact” and play when she isn’t interested. It’s kind of a cross between childhood friends and an old married couple. And he’s been trying to mate with her since he was barely 2 years old. He’s 6 now, and has made little progress in figuring out the correct mechanics of parrot yada yada. They sleep on separate perches in different parts of the room, sometimes even separate rooms. When people ask if they are mates, I usually describe it as “they have sex but don’t sleep together.”

Now I’m seeing him as I knew Carly before he arrived. She was 4 years old and he came at 4 months — hand delivered by “mom” Wendy Craig (http://www.wendysparrots.com) on a visit to fly the beach with Samantha, her Red-fronted Macaw. So I never had the intense one-on-one with Piper that I did with Carly — from our first, unexpected THIS IS *MY* BIRD encounter when she was a baby at the store, all through a long mutual training journey.

An odd time. I don’t know what I’ll find when I catch up with her. Who is this other bird? Wild? Former pet? Will she be willing to leave? Will he — or she — be willing to come with us? (I’ve seen some extremely strong same-sex bonding in parrots too.) What if there’s an owner who can be found? Separate them? Play dates? Will she be able to fly outside any more (unlikely if there’s a mate somewhere in the area). Will she be miserable left behind when Piper is out flying (most certainly yes, unless she has another buddy at home.) I’m quite prepared for her to not even come to me.

Or is this just a friendship of convenience? We don’t know for sure if there has been a single companion or two. Two good sightings — one over several days — had a Grey companion. Recent ones have seen a green (wild Amazon?) companion, including the close-up & reliable observation at PB lifeguard tower. The grey parrot missing before her was found dead about a week after Carly went missing. Was she hanging with him, and now with someone else? (Would certainly fit the “Carly the Tart” we all know. )

Lots of questions. One evening at sunset, July 3, I was so dead tired from searching I was almost hoping she wouldn’t appear then. I just didn’t have the energy to deal with an “other bird” situation.

So, um, thank you Carly for giving me time to think? I’m good now — we can deal with this. Pop on down here!

Beach Bum

Posted by Raz on Jul 8th, 2014
Jul 8

The latest reported sighting is from Zack in Pacific Beach, who saw Carly sitting on top of the shower area at the beach in PB, next to the lifeguard tower, on July 5, with a green parrot. He gave a thorough description, was up close, noticed it was out of place and wondered who it belonged to. I didn’t have posters in that area. Two days later he saw one I put at In-n-Out Burger a mile or two away.

This is the exact location of the last sighting. I don’t see anything here.


So, posting in Pacific Beach between Mission Bay Golf Course (#4 on map) and the ocean is underway. I notified the lifeguards, and spoke to bars/cafes along the boardwalk. Kurt’s Mobile Pet Detectives told me of a place with very low color copy prices; they are made and we’ll start posting this evening. Join us for one helluva good time. Bring flyers and tape and you’ll be entered into the Grand Prize Raffle! (Prize: African Grey Parrot, Female, 9 years old, likes beaches.)

Flyers (2 to a page) can be downloaded www.tinyurl.com/FINDCLU.

Here are the sightings so far that have had good detail, were over multiple days, or made sense in terms of timing. Lots of calls that were vague, just sound, or totally out of the area (>40 miles). Many checked out just in case. Numbers refer to map below.

  1. June 29-July2, 3-5 pm First report of sighting. In tall eucalyptus trees, and along street where wild amazons were feeding on carrotwood trees. Seen in eucs, flying between trees (6/29-7/1), and in a woody thicket (7/2) along the road only feet away. In trees seen by 2 people over several days, one has owned an amazon. In trees there were 2 greys. One described as “fluffy”. (She was referring to belly feathers.)
  2. July 1 Report of 2 “non-green” parrots not like usual flocks flying overhead to the west, toward bay.
  3. June 26-July 1, early morning Seen multiple mornings over the week from by park service guy, 6-9 AM, near visitor center; on first day with another parrot. 7/4 two possible sightings: 7:30 pm flying out of tall eucalyptus 1000 ft to south of visitor center, heading north; confirmed red tail. 7:50 pm perched in eucalyptus tree beside visitor center. (Amazons seen eating and roosting in this tree 7/7.)
  4. July 1, 11am (same day as #2) Seen in trees along narrow road between golf course and bay by a couple on bikes. One on each side of the road, “kind of chatting back and forth”. Saw whole body on one, definitely a grey. Other head only, not as certain.
  5. July 5, 3pm. Clearly seen sitting on top of shower building by lifeguard tower at Pacific Beach, end of Grand Ave. There was a green parrot also.


Search stats:

Best tips coming from information seen on posters (3), News/TV reports (3), talking to someone in person (3), vets/pet stores (0), Nextdoor.com (0).

Most search & post help coming from: Facebook friends & strangers (too many to count!), Nextdoor.com (several).

Most unreliable tips: “heard a different kind of bird” (without sighting also)

Samaritan to Jerk ratio: LOTS:2

Ace Ventura, Poop Detective

Posted by Raz on Jul 4th, 2014
Jul 4

Lots of ground covered today, stakeouts at all the spotting locations, but no Carly. I did find out she’s been seen by the park service guys most days this week very early in the morning, near the visitor center, right where our flying spot is. One time there were two of them. The man I spoke to tried to get her to come down to him once but she would have none of it. I’m wondering if she’s in full nesting mode with the Mystery Grey.

Great, my daughter has eloped…

At sunset instead of walking/biking I just stayed at the visitor center and quietly searched up in all the big trees, checked underneath for parrot poop or feathers. Nothing. But it was all recently mowed and groomed prior to the holiday too.

So I’m going on the assumption tomorrow that she is roosting nearby, not up by the Amazon trees where she’s only been seen in the afternoon. I’ll do a crack-of-dawn stakeout at the visitor center, then check out the place where she was spotted around 10-11 am, and a set of big oak trees near that that I know she likes. (I’ve been there many times this week, but never very early.)

The bay will become a noisy swarm of people well before noon, so there won’t be a lot of time to hear anything. If she’s roosting there with another Grey, I’m wondering how s/he will take the pandemonium and fireworks. Carly’s been to such things before and for her the more the merrier, and fireworks are no big deal. But I can imagine an escaped bird used to indoors being pretty alarmed by it all. I’ll be checking in and out over there throughout the day.

4th of July Mission Bay Stakeout Extravaganza

4th of July Mission Bay Stakeout Extravaganza

Thank you to April Adcock of PEAC for walking one big leg of the evening route and handing out flyers at Campland. And to Bev Moody for a watchful stakeout at the shopping center trees while I was at the bay, Melissa for surveying a big swath of neighborhood between spotting sites, Mr. ‘That Bike’ for taking part of the bay route while I stayed in place. And my precious neighbor Sylvia for walking the Amazon trail putting up flyers and listening for Carly, whose voice she knows well, feeding me, watering my garden, making posters, and making sure I don’t forget every single thing when I leave the house.

And thanks to everyone who’s been trying to find any little way to help or keep my spirits up. It’s been overwhelming and has most definitely kept me from curling up in a ball.

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