Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pet lovebirds fly free in Phoenix

Move over, starling. Fly away, rock dove (pigeon). Make way for a more colorful newer exotic invader -- the peach-faced lovebird. Imported for the pet trade, this native of the SW African desert has escaped into the wilds of Scottsdale and other eastern parts of the greater Phoenix area. Saguaro cactus nesting holes and the fruits and seeds of native Arizona plants suit these little fellows just fine, though they also emjoy the usual feeder grub.

According to one website, Phoenix lovebird flocks may number in the low thousands. 1998 was the first year they were noticed in the Arizona wild. While the same birds are surviving in chilly Scotland and have been seen in Albuquerque at 6200 ft., none have as yet been reported near Prescott. On a tracking map of sightings, the furthest north for the birds at this point is New River. Perhaps it's the easy life that's keeping them in a city where feeding birds is a favorite pastime.

One woman from Moon Valley reported to the lovebird site that they love to play games. Once all eight was swinging on my clothesline making a game out of it. The other day three of them got on the chicken coop roof. It is tin. They would get on the peak and slide down, then go up to the top and slide down again. They usually play games about 10 minutes at a time. Just by the way, I knew nothing about the lovebird invasion before I received these pictures taken by friend Bob down in Scottsdale last week.

Linkage: I found an interesting on-line magazine, New Geography, dealing with demography, city and suburban areas, and other aspects of living on the land. Another site of interest gives an eerie look at military ghost towns in Russia. And speaking of abandonment (if only temporary), take a look at the huge fleet of container ships at anchor east of Singapore.


Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

With the exception of the cactus, your pics could be from here. We've had an invasion from a very attractive lorokeet native to eastern Aussie. Though pretty, they're hell on wings, as they take over nesting sites in trees formerly occupied by indigenous bird life, including the '28' parrot who is larger, but not as aggressive. We call these critters "rats". They are particularly a problem in the Karrakatta cemetary nearby--they are badly in need of culling.

I trust that Ariz's parrots are not allowed to oust locals.


TomboCheck said...

I too was unaware of the invasion to the south. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled next time I'm in the valley.

Thanks for yet another great post Julie!

Anil P said...

What a warm story, and how delightful as well.

The birds are beautiful and it is wonderful to learn of the cheer they're bringing to the residents.

In time they'll make the geography their own if they haven't already.

Meggie said...

They are very attractive birds. Apparently Aussie Rosellas have invaded New Zealand, & are proving to be very aggressive against the native birds. It seems a shame, as they are so attractive too.

Granny J said...

bro -- it's really too bad that such pretty birds are likely to turn into a time bomb.

tombo -- do keep your eyes out; they are apparently pretty much confined to the city right now, but are desert birds at home so could adapt to much of Arizona.

anil p -- a mixed blessing. Beautiful but invasive!

meggie -- there's been no report on how the local birds are faring. At last, I did not see any.

Jarart said...

I saw a lovebird on the power line in my backyard a couple of years ago. I have a picture of it too. I thought it might be a local escapee, but who knows.

Granny J said...

jarart -- Oops! If only one, no problem of an invasion -- yet.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no evidence that the lovebirds in Arizona are threatening to oust any other species. On the contrary, they are amazingly cooperative with other bird species. They are also cooperative with humans, extremely intelligent, and clean (as opposed to pigeons, for instance).

What a shame that some folks (including Arizona Wildlife, who advocates using pesticides!) consider them to be invasive. It seems pretty stupid to me to get hung up on a technicality when these birds are otherwise obviously welcome to NORMAL people and have not posed a threat to other wildlife.

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