Meet The 3 Amigos: Ernie, Moe, and Chupa (short for Chupacabra). The Amigos are a species of parrot most commonly called the Mexican red-headed Amazon. This species is also known as the green-cheeked Amazon and the red-crowned parrot. The scientific name for the Mexican red-headed Amazon is Amazona viridigenalis. They are considered endangered due to deforestation of their habitat. This species is native to Northeast Mexico. There are also feral flocks of Mexican red-headed Amazons in Southern California, Florida, and Oahu. One fun fact about Mexican red-headed Amazons is that they are one of the few species of parrots that are sexually dimorphic (males and females look different). In mature adult male birds the red crown extends from their beak to the back of their head while the red crown of the females usually stops in front of their eyes. Ernie and Moe are males and Chupa is a female. Can you tell which is Chupa in the photograph above?
The 3 Amigos belong to our newest veterinarian, Dr. Jane Jones. Dr. Jones and The Amigos migrated here from San Diego, California over the summer. All 3 Amigos were members of San Diego’s feral flock. Dr. Jones adopted them when they were brought to her hospital as fledglings by Good Samaritans.
For years, the feral parrot flocks of San Diego have been in a precarious position. While some residents loved seeing these beautiful birds flying through their neighborhood, others were annoyed by the parrots’ loud chatter and calling. There was also the dilemma of what to do with injured feral parrots. Because they are not native to Southern California, wildlife rescue facilities can not treat them. Today, there is a rescue group, SoCal Parrot, devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating the feral parrots of Southern California. However, for a long time, the care of these birds was the responsibility of a few willing local veterinarians.
Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins, owner and founder of the Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital in San Diego, has been caring for the feral flock for over 30 years. Since opening his hospital, Dr. Jenkins has treated hundreds of feral parrots. At the Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital, all hospitalized feral parrots undergo blood tests to screen for infectious diseases and ensure the health of the feral flock. Recovered parrots that are able return to the wild are released while non-releasable injured adults and hand-fed orphans are found suitable homes. When Dr. Jones joined the Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital in 2010, Ernie showed up a few weeks later. It was love at first sight! During the summer of 2012 the hospital took in 5 injured/orphaned fledglings. Ernie was so excited to be around other members of his species that Dr. Jones decided he need a flock of his own. Dr. Jones and Ernie adopted 2 of the fledglings and the 3 Amigos were formed!
The 3 Amigos are proud ambassadors of their species. In San Diego they went to work with Mom every day and became unofficial mascots of the hospital. Now, Ernie, Moe, and Chupa have joined the Mount Laurel Exotics Family. They have enjoyed meeting new people and making new friends. The Amigos still get to come to work with Mom sometimes to help train new staff and veterinary students on safe bird handling. They are rewarded with lots of treats for their service and have a fun time!
To watch a video about the history of feral parrots in San Diego (and see Ernie on film), Click here:
To learn more about the current status of San Diego’s feral parrot flock, Click here:
To learn more about SoCal Parrot, the rescue group devoted to Southern California’s feral parrots, Click here:
Author: Dr. Jane Jones