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Florida’s Introduced Parrots – an Amazing Array of Macaws, Amazons, Conures and Exotic Transplants


Florida’s only native parrot, the Carolina parakeet, is unfortunately no longer with us, having been hunted out of existence in the early 1900’s.  But at least 40 other parrot species have taken up residence in the Sunshine State (74 species have been sighted there since the 1960’s), and a recent survey reveals that most have established breeding populations.

Included among these in residence are Goffin’s cockatoos, chestnut-fronted macaws, African gray parrots, black-headed and red-throated parakeets, nearly every commonly-kept Amazon and mitred and sun conures.  Both green-winged and blue and gold macaws are regularly sighted, but breeding success has not been documented.

One of the most surprising discoveries has been a robust population of red-crowned Amazon parrots, a species considered quite threatened in its native northeastern Mexico.  Roosting aggregations of 100-200+ birds have been observed, and breeding pairs were been documented in Fort Lauderdale as far back as the early 1970’s.  A reintroduction program, using individuals trapped in Florida, is under consideration.

As a naturalist with wide interests, I’m awed by Florida’s introduced wildlife, despite the environmental havoc that has resulted.  In addition to some of the birds mentioned above, I have also observed dozens of species of introduced fishes, reptiles, amphibians, insects and spiders.  Exotic mammals have been the biggest surprise – African pouched rats, capybara, agoutis and a number of other surprising finds await those who wander afield in this most unusual state.


An in depth Florida Field Naturalist article on introduced parrots is posted at http://www.fosbirds.org/FFN/Articles/FFNv30n4p111-131Pranty.pdf

Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Roger Moore Glandauer.


  1. avatar
    Justine Saracen

    Hi Frank,
    I’m writing a short story about a pet parrot who is freed by his dying owner and who joins a wild population. Can you advise me on the following:
    What is the most likely species that would welcome a housed parrot into its midst. and
    what is the average age span of such a parrot. I am inclined to use Monk parrots. What do you think?
    Thanks for any advice.

  2. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Interesting idea…Monk Parrots would be a great choice; those I’ve observed in NYC do accept new members (recently escaped pets) into the flock.

    Pet monk parrots have lived into their early 30’s, but not much is known about their lifespan in the wild, especially in introduced habitats. Those living in NYC and other large cities have few predators, but may face nutritional and other problems.

    Please let me know if you need anything further,

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar
    Justine Saracen

    Thanks, Frank. Monk parrots it is. And I’ll make him 10 years old, old enough to have spent a decade with the old lady who dies right after she has freed him, but young enough to last a few more years in a benign environment.
    Incidentally, I just bought a new lovebird. Through odd circumstances, current lovebird was paired with a parakeet and they got on famously. Parakeet died and I’ve bought a new love bird. I’ll keep an eye on this site for good information. Bisous from Brussels.

  4. avatar

    Hello Justine, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback…sounds like a fine idea.

    It is interesting the associations that form, isn’t it. I once watched an escaped budgerigar that took up with a flock of sparrows in NYC – was with them for several weeks!

    Good luck and please keep me posted; would enjoy seeing your story if possible.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    Dear Sir:

    The resolution of a open competition in order to access to a job in Public
    Administration in the Zoo of Córdoba (Spain) depends on rigorous scientific
    data relating to “macaw”. Especially about their longevity. I Need rigorous
    documentation stating that these animals can live more than 80 years.
    Please, I need scientific reprints in pdf format, or otherwise a list of
    zoologists/ biologists who could certify data on this issue. I would
    appreciate also if you send me in pdf format a report where you confirm the
    maxima longevity of macaws.

  6. avatar

    Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thank you for your interest in our blog. Unfortunately I do not have any useful articles at hand – the journal The Auk (published by the American Ornithologist’s Union) should be useful – abstracts are available online. You might also post a request for info on the websites of the American Zoo Association (all major US zoos keep detailed longevity records) and The Association of Avian Veterinarians.

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar
    Elizabeth Weisleder

    I do not believe you should encourage anyone for any reason to set a pet parrot FREE. They are not equipt to foraging for food & in fact, would probably become food for hawks.

  8. avatar

    Hello Elizabeth, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback. You are quite right – parrots that do well in foreign environments negatively impact native species; those release into unfavorable habitats will not survive.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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