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Monday, February 18, 2008

Yellow-headed Parrot in Weslaco

Each evening, dozens of Red-crowned Parrots flock to roosts in Rio Grande Valley cities from McAllen to Brownsville. On Saturday night, we checked out the roost in Weslaco. After talking with some local folks in the neighborhood about the birds, the flock finally showed up about 6:15. A couple van loads of birders arrived and started racing around then neighborhood to get better looks. At one point, 15 birders were running down the street to try and get closer to the birds.

The birds flew, and we were able to drive right up underneath the flock of maybe 60 birds in a couple trees. Among the birds was one that was slightly larger, with yellow from the top of the head to the throat--a juvenile Yellow-headed Parrot.

Yellow-headed Parrots are not on the official North American bird list. A few were seen with valley flocks in the 1980s, and some argued they were wild birds from Mexico. Others thought it more likely that they were escaped cage birds. Several species of escaped parrots show up with flocks of parrots in the Valley--including West Mexican species that wouldn't likely occur here on their own. So its hard to know if the bird we saw was more likely to be a young bird dispersing from southern Tamaulipas, or a young bird captured or bred in the pet trade and escaped.

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