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Best of 2000: Best Place To Spot SD's Flock Of Wild Parrots

Robb Field, Ocean Beach

America's finest city? Mexican red-headed Amazons think so. The parrots are voting with their wings. It started four decades ago, when about 100 of these luminous-green birds with scarlet crests and red-and-blue wing stripes escaped from their cages in O.B. A good samaritan resident, who'd been rescuing them from Tijuana markets, had a fire at her home. Firemen on the scene opened the cages to save the birds. Instead of heading south, the Amazons saw they had a year-round food supply in O.B. and Point Loma, mainly fruit from palm trees and nuts from pinecones in the fall. The flock has thrived, as have half a dozen huge (three-foot-long) blue-and-gold macaws. No surprise. They're highly intelligent: some Amazons are rated as bright as a two-year-old child. Best place to see them? According to exotic bird veterinarian Jeffrey Jenkins, the pine trees at Robb Field (by the San Diego River). Early morning or dusk you may catch up to 20 of them coming in to land. Bring earplugs: each parrot belts out one squawk per wing beat. The pine trees turn vivid green as they settle in to crack the cones for a dinner of pine nuts. Best time of year: spring or fall.

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Robb Field, Ocean Beach

America's finest city? Mexican red-headed Amazons think so. The parrots are voting with their wings. It started four decades ago, when about 100 of these luminous-green birds with scarlet crests and red-and-blue wing stripes escaped from their cages in O.B. A good samaritan resident, who'd been rescuing them from Tijuana markets, had a fire at her home. Firemen on the scene opened the cages to save the birds. Instead of heading south, the Amazons saw they had a year-round food supply in O.B. and Point Loma, mainly fruit from palm trees and nuts from pinecones in the fall. The flock has thrived, as have half a dozen huge (three-foot-long) blue-and-gold macaws. No surprise. They're highly intelligent: some Amazons are rated as bright as a two-year-old child. Best place to see them? According to exotic bird veterinarian Jeffrey Jenkins, the pine trees at Robb Field (by the San Diego River). Early morning or dusk you may catch up to 20 of them coming in to land. Bring earplugs: each parrot belts out one squawk per wing beat. The pine trees turn vivid green as they settle in to crack the cones for a dinner of pine nuts. Best time of year: spring or fall.

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