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Meet the Parrots of Long Beach: Conures of Belmont Shore, California



Long Beach, California--Not far from the elegant apartment building, Gaytonia in Belmont Shore, you may have met my friends, the noisy conures  who live in the palm trees that sway above 2nd Street near Livingston in Long Beach? Perhaps you thought you were seeing an illusion when a bright green bird with a red beak swooped past you as you wandered over to the Belmont Memorial Pier. Many a resident in the townhome complex adjacent to the pier have had to adjust to these noisy neighbors known not only for their social behaviors, but for their chatter.



The Half-moon conures seen around Belmont Shoree  are comprised of a healthy colony living in the palms since the 1980s. According to a shop owner who shares the air with this noisy birds, the conures escaped back in the 1980s during a fire in a shop in Pasadena. While some may also be pets that accidentally got away, one thing's for sure. The colorful birds are absolutely a kick to watch.


Surviving in a non-native habitat in Southern California, the birds, like many immigrant critters, have taken a liking to the climate, and have learned to dine on a variety of food sources. They get up to 90% of the nutrients and foods that exist in their South American home. We've seen them mostly in Belmont Shore, and a study of these birds was documented by folks at Cal State Long Beach just a few miles nearby. Apparently the campus offers a variety of bushes, trees and fruits the birds really like.


Our first encounter with the conures of Belmont Shore was a visual glance as they darted into palm trees next to the pier. The noise is the best giveaway of where to spot them, however. The conures are a tropical bird that you can actually hear in the palm trees above. Or when you watch them swoop and fly, their darting and deliberate style that borders on aggressive can take you aback. But once you see these green birds with the red beaks, your curiosity peaks and you have to watch them more. If the bright colors of the birds don't grab you.


Conures come in many names, sizes and colors, but are loosely organized into what's considered small to medium-sized parrots. The term "conure" is used mostly in bird keeping, though the residents and business owners in Belmont Shore often refer to them as conures rather than parrots.


In addition to the Half-moon conure seen in Long Beach, other birds around the globe include: Cinnamon Green-cheeked Conure, Extinct Carolina Parakeet, Nanday Conure and St. Thomas Conure. Found primarily in the western hemisphere in Central or South America, these large parakeets or small parrots are clowns. They are show off to get attention and will sway back and forth in a dance, or hang upside down from a branch.

Living in the open range, you take them seriously when you see them coming your way. Their strong beaks featuring a small cere look like they could do damage. Add to that that they fly (and live) in flocks of 20 or more birds, they're quite noticeable as a group. While the Half-moon is considered one of the quieter species, you have to wonder what a louder bird would sound like. Living 20 to 30 years, the birds of Belmont Shore could still contain some of the original conures that first came to live near the beach. It's clear that they've reproduced during the decades since they escaped to paradise.


 

 


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