Wild parrots spotted in Menlo Park


Every morning, Seth Watkins lays peanuts in his driveway on Arbor Road to feed the neighboring crows and jays. Tuesday, Sept. 15, at around 9:15 a.m., he noticed something wasn't right. He couldn't see any crows, but he did heard a loud squawking sound.

He looked up to see what was making the noise.

"That's when I saw the birds," he said.

A flock of five parrots, which Mr. Watkins later identified as cherry-headed conures, flew about 30 feet over his head head.

Later that evening, a raucous flock of six to 10 wild parrots was again reported in Menlo Park, this time outside of Trader Joe's. Shoppers and birdwatchers alike took in the sight, including Redwood City resident and lifelong birdwatcher Paul Carroll, who knew a sighting of these wild nonnative birds was unusual. He dove into some research.

According to Mr. Carroll, the birds likely came from one of the two known nearby colonies of wild parrots that roost in San Francisco or Sunnyvale. The San Francisco flock was the subject of a 2003 documentary titled, "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," and the Sunnyvale colony has been documented in the area since 2008.

However, he found no indication that anyone had ever seen these birds in the wild in Menlo Park before.

While he is confident the birds he saw were parrots, Mr. Carroll believed that the birds may have been a species called mitred parakeets. Both cherry-headed conures and mitred parakeets are known by signature splashes of red on their faces.

"Maybe they were checking out Menlo Park as a place to live," he said.

Mr. Watkins echoed Mr. Carroll's enthusiasm for the new avian visitors.

"Now that we have wild parrots in Menlo Park, I'd like to see some emus!" he said.

Unfortunately, neither birdwatcher was able to get any pictures. If any of our readers spot the birds and take pictures, be sure to email two or three to the Almanac at

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4 people like this
Posted by Welcom
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 16, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Great news and WELCOME! Maybe they'll scare away the crows.

4 people like this
Posted by Are they politicians?
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Watching the politicians running for President on tv tonight parroting each other, I wonder if those parrots might actually be politicians flying high and making noise - instead of sense.

1 person likes this
Posted by are they politicians 2
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:32 pm

not just last night--these politicians you speak of have been flocking around making undecipherable noises have been going on for years--the last 7 of which have been extremely raucous. but, it has been going on for years. if you are expressing that these parrots are "politicians" bring back the obnoxious crows. we don't need any more politicians.

1 person likes this
Posted by MPParrots
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm

The correct name of the delightful movie (and book by Mark Bittner) is The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Here is a website that might be of interest as we wait and see if they take up residence in Menlo Park. I've seen (5 together) and heard them in the Nealon Park area since Friday, September 4th.
Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

really? is a registered user.

True politicians: Making irritating noise, flying above us all, and pooping on our heads.

Like this comment
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Sep 17, 2015 at 4:26 pm

One guy says he saw wild parrots, but there are no photos, and he can't find anyone else who says they saw them in Menlo Park. Not really news, then, right?

Also, they are "mourning doves," not "morning doves." As in, the cooing sound they make sounds like someone crying mournfully.

Like this comment
Posted by Scott McMahon
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

I have seen parrots in Palo Alto many times. There was a wild flock of them in the midtown area when I lived there in about 1995. Wouldn't be surprised to see some of them wander as far as Menlo Park. Once I saw them eating fruit in a neighbors tree. I was pretty close up that time, but other than that, I've only seen them from far below. They seen to like to roost and fly way up high.

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

Heard and saw the flock today (November 20th) circling between Palo Alto and Menlo Park over the creek. Probably 15 of them. Adding them to my 'frontyard' species list of about 26 species now. I live right on the san francisquito creek in Menlo Park.

3 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

really? is a registered user.

All these parrots flying around suggests that there must be lots of pirates now in the area. Has anyone checked their gardens and the creek for these ruffians?

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:39 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Could be. Talk like a pirate day was September 19th. aaaaargh!

Like this comment
Posted by Ross Smith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Saw a flock of 4 parrots in willows area yesterday (15sep16).

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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