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My Life’s Birds: #425

September 8, 2010

March 19, 2007 – McAllen, Tx – I mention my dad a lot in these little reminiscences, and for good reason.   When I was bit by the birding bug he gamely followed along, acting not only as my chauffeur but as my partner in crime.  My earliest birding memories, and indeed my earliest nature memories prior to even that, are largely with him, but there’s another character who is no less important but far less flashy, my long-suffering mother who about the time when my dad and I became obsessed birders of the type that readers of this blog no doubt know all too well that, must have realized that there would never be another family vacation from those days forward that wouldn’t have a bird component.  To this day, I’m still not sure how she feels about that looking back on it.

Family issues aside, South Texas is one of those places where even urban birds are among the most desirable.  It seems that several of the towns that dot the border host populations of parrots, some of which are no doubt the escapees that seem to show up at border crossings having broken free of the bonds of bird smugglers and pet traders, but some have origins that are less cut and dried.  South Texas is not far from the natural ranges of more than a few species, and with habitat degradation an ongoing problem in many parts of Mexico, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some of the flocks of parrots have wild origins.  At the very least, the most that can be said is that the flocks that find solace in strip mall parking lots are probably a little from column A and a little from column B, so you might as well make them all countable

Which is why my dad and I had a jones for psitticids, and why we had to make a strong case to my mom, who was not super keen on staying back at my grandmother’s home alone.  Fortunately, parrots are one of those groups that appeal to non-birders, even non-birders who have every right based on a long and fraught history to have feelings verging on active anti-birding.  So it wasn’t terribly difficult to convince her to join us as we ran the few miles over to drive up and down a major thoroughfare looking for the roost of Green Parakeets that make the urban landscape home.  Fortunately, it wasn’t difficult to find them.

The power lines were dotted with Starlings and Rock Doves, typical city fare.  Before long we came across a long string of closely packed little birds, whose squeals and squawks nearly drowned out the passing traffic.  It was strange to watch them, not only because the way parrots move, using their bill as a third appendage, is fairly foreign to those of us used to watching birds in the US, but because while other power line sitters generally leave an significant amount of space between evenly distributed individuals, parrots can’t seem to get close enough, tightly bonding in clump after feathery clump, scratching and picking at each other like monkeys.  All the while screaming bloody murder.

We pulled into the parking lot of a used CD store across the street and set up a scope to watch them closely.  Parrots are always a treat, and I think even my mom enjoyed them too, against her better judgment perhaps.  It didn’t help our cause to head to Anzalduas early the next morning, but you can’t win them all.

GREPAR by jerryoldenettel via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA-2.0)

  1. Charley Burwick permalink
    September 9, 2010 8:36 am

    Sweet. You have a great mother, and just plain awesome parents.

  2. Mom permalink
    September 10, 2010 2:30 pm

    I did see some pretty good birds! : )

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