Just two native species of parrots have existed in the US, and one of those species is now extinct, while the other can now be found only in Mexico. So how is it that there are now nearly 60 parrot species scattered in the wild across almost every state? They're the imported pet parrots that escaped from their owners, and in some cases their descendants, Gizmodo reports. In a study published in the Journal of Ornithology, researchers counted up nationwide parrot sightings culled from two databases from 2002 to 2016 and found there were 56 species in 43 states, with 25 of those species having established breeding colonies across nearly two dozen of those states.
The most common species found in the wild now are monk parakeets, the red-crowned Amazon, and the Nanday parakeet. Most of the birds have been found in the warmer states of California, Florida, and Texas, though clusters have also been found around big urban areas like Chicago and New York City. "Many of them were escaped pets, or their owners released them because they couldn't train them or they made too much noise—all the reasons people let pets go," study co-author Stephen Pruett-Jones says in a release. "But many of these species are perfectly happy living here and they've established populations. Wild parrots are here to stay." (Read more parrots stories.)