I know this month’s AHBE Lab theme has focused upon urban wildlife, but I want to share something more personal. It was during breakfast last week, while considering this month’s topic, when I looked out our window and noticed my my wife’s bird cages and our two birds perched within. While observing the two birds, I thought to myself, “Is this an example of urban wildlife?”
I looked outside my window and saw birds chirping in our tree. I wondered, “Why aren’t our birds considered part of the urban wildlife ecology?”
Looking into it further I discovered that 3.1% of America’s households own a pet bird. With over 3.6 million bird owners in this county, each caring for 2.3 birds per household, that adds up to a total of around 8.3 million birdies nationally. That is a lot of birds living within our cities! The idea also brought me to the conclusion we should create a new sub-category of urban wildlife to account for these type of formerly wild animal populations living amongst us in and around our homes.
Let me introduce you to our two birds. First, there is Mona. She is a Parrotlet, or as some people call them, a Pocket Parrot, or even Forpus coelestis if you want to get scientific. Mona has been with us for over 7 years, coming from Pomona, California where she was hand-raised. Her ancestors are originally from South America near Peru.
Then we have Buddy, who is a Parakeet (Melopsittacus undulatus budgerigar). Although Buddy’s family roots are Australian, we first came upon Buddy at our favorite pet shop, Omar’s in Santa Monica. Like most of us whose ancestors came from elsewhere, both Mona and Buddy are also immigrants distant from their native ecologies.
I realized that the only difference between our birds and the birds hanging out in our backyard tree is that we’ve named this pair, they live with us, and that Mona and Buddy have become part of our family (at least in our mind). However, I know they’re still wild at heart, because all I have to do (heaven forbid) is open my front door and watch our family members fly out the door. Whether they’ll decide to fly back in through door at the end of the day is still wildly debatable.