Because there are a lot of parrots flying around in certain areas of Florida, some people will naturally wonder if these are actually birds that are native to the state of Florida.
The fact is this:
The free flying parrots throughout Florida are the result of intentional or accidental release of captive parrots.
Sadly, there are a huge number of parrots bred and kept throughout Florida in captivity. The life of a captive parrot is very rarely of high quality; but that’s a whole other topic.
The difficulty of having a parrot as a “pet” is confronting for many people – they realize they’ve made a mistake. Instead of finding a quality sanctuary to rehome their parrot, they intentionally release it into the wild.
This is a very bad decision for two main reasons:
1. Captive parrots will struggle to survive in the wild – Florida is not where they belong, nor are they equipped with the life experience required for survival.
2. It is harmful to native wildlife, as the parrots then become an invasive species.
But let’s stay on the main topic here, of whether there are or have ever been parrots that are native to Florida.
It’s established that the only native parrot known to exist in North America is the long extinct Carolina Parakeet.
But Florida is within close proximity of South America, where there are a huge number of native parrots. And a smaller number within Central America.
Would any of these birds migrate north into the state of Florida?
The short answer is: no.
Any South American parrot species you see in Florida are a result of the captive bird trade.
There are quite a few Amazon parrot species sighted regularly throughout South Florida. These birds are on their own most of the time. Amazon parrots are not native to Florida.
Macaws are not native to Florida
Quaker Parrots are not native to Florida
There are no native parrots in Florida.
The fact is that the ecology of Florida is a mess. Both as a result of vast habitat destruction; the concreting of wetlands and forested areas. And the long term, cruel trade in birds (many wild caught in their home lands) that is particularly prevalent in Florida.
When we view a list of species sighted over the years in Florida on ebird, the huge list of non-native/invasive species rings alarm bells. Few other places in the world would hold such a list of introduced birds in an area. Sadly, this is Florida’s reality and the lost habitat will never ever be what it once was.
So if you see a parrot in Florida, spare a thought for how that bird would be feeling – frightened, alone, in an alien place with no way out.
The issue of some parrot species who have colonized and are known to be breeding in Florida are another issue. Monk or Quaker parrots fall into this category, and there are places in Florida where you can easily see many of this species living as a flock.
Unfortunately, they are unwelcome by some residents and like many other parrots throughout Florida, may be persecuted or have their nests and chicks raided by poachers.
Yes, much more needs to be done – must be done, ethically, to eliminate the cruel parrot breeding trade and importing of poached birds from other countries, resulting in considerable suffering for all parrots involved.