According to a new study, escaped exotic pet birds have become naturalized in 23 U.S. states
The study, published in the Journal of Ornithology, compared data from two different bird sighting databases, eBird and the National Audubon Society‘s Christmas Bird Count to track naturalized parrot species. In total, 56 different parrot species were found across 43 states. Of those, 25 species were found to be breeding in 23 different states.
The most common species observed in the wild were monk parakeets, red-crowned Amazons, and Nanday parakeets. Many of the birds were concentrated in areas with warmer climates, such as California, Florida, and Texas, as well as major urban centers like Chicago and New York.
Unlike other types of pet that have been released into non-natural habitats, most of the birds observed in the study have been found to not be invasive or otherwise harmful to the habitats in which they have been introduced. Combined with the fact that, in many cases, there are now more introduced birds living in the United States than in their original habitats, there has been a growth of support regarding efforts to preserve and protect these naturalized birds.
“The entire conservation focus for this species is now on a non-native, introduced, naturalized population. The survival of the species is most likely going to come from efforts to save it someplace where it never existed before.”
— Stephen Pruett-Jones, Ecologist, University of Chicago