Like puppies, wild parrots seem to make everyone smile. On a recent trip to south Texas, our trip leader, Bill, headed toward a couple of addresses in McAllen that offered some great urban birding. The first was in a residential neighborhood. A lady on her front porch began yelling to us as soon as our big van pulled up. I can certainly understand why homeowners would feel uncomfortable when strangers with binoculars pull up to your house. We yelled back, "We're just looking at birds!" but we weren't listening—she was saying, "Come on into my driveway!" When we finally heard her welcome, we stepped on over and got a great view of 5 Red-crowned Parrots screeching in a palm tree.
The welcoming attitude was more surprising to me than the parrots. Most birders are used to wariness if not hostility from residents. I've had people call the police on me during Christmas Counts. Birding is big business in Texas—I knew that, but I just didn't know how supportive the average person is in south Texas. Impressive!
Our next stop was a strip mall on 10th Street. Around sunset, we waited by the huge fountain in front of Lowe's. The parking lot was full of cars with plates from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ontario—everyone waiting for the Green Parakeets. Most didn't have binoculars, but as I say, everyone loves wild parrots, not just birders. Suddenly with great fanfare and squeaky chattering, a flock of 500 Green Parakeets jostled for position on the overhead wires. After checking the scene, they flew over to the fountain and began to bathe. A few moments later, a Cooper's Hawk streaked in, chasing the parakeets first low, then high over the roofs. Cooper's Hawks really love wild parrots! Most of the non-birders left, but it didn't take long for the flock to regroup and circle back to the fountain. Urban birding at its best!