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Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!

Red-crowned vs. Lilac-crowned Parrot records and distribution in San Diego County……Rethinking needed!
By {authorlink} – 11:39 am

It is the strong impression of a number of us that the preceived status and distribution–and thus the eBird database–of Red-crowned versus Lilac-crowned Parrots in San Diego County (and perhaps elsewhere in Southern California) is partly inaccurate and somewhat of a mess. I certainly do not profess to know the intricacies of what is ACTUALLY going on out there, but here are some thoughts on trying to at least partly correct the current situation:
For a number of years, of course, only Red-crowned was an acceptable exotic species in the county and state, with Lilac-crowned only reaching that status about a year or so ago. Combine that with MANY, MANY observers having an incorrect notion that only Red-crowned has a slug of red on the forehead, and the result has been a whole lot of reports of Red-crowneds that were actually Lilac-crowneds or at least no better than Red-crowned/Lilac-crowned. In a goodly number of locations, both species occur. In some areas only Red-crowneds are seen. BUT in some areas where Red-crowneds are routinely reported, it appears that either ALL birds or at least a very large majority are in fact Lilac-crowneds. At least currently. Things could change over a few years’ time.
Two areas in San Diego County where Lilac-crowneds appear to be either the only or at least the overwhelmingly dominant species are Coronado and Oceanside. Anyone reporting Red-crowneds at these sites should perhaps pay extra special attention to field marks seen, and especially try to obtain diagnostic photos. Those folks with photos might want to go back and scrutinize them again. And many folks who have routinely eBirded Red-crowneds in the past in many regions in the county when the birds have not been studied closely might wish to go back and resubmit them as Red-crowned/Lilac-crowned.
I do know that we eBird reviewers will attempt to re-review a bunch of the county parrot records at some point in the future. As best as can be done!
Perhaps too many observers rely too heavily on the perceived amount of “lilac” on the crown. Or they simply see red. They should also carefully study the size and exact shade of red of the forehead patch (averages very slightly smaller and a duller/deeper red in Lilac-crowned) and the color of the nares (darker in Lilac-crowned). Some folks have mentioned tail length differences, but this is likely fairly subjective. And also be aware of the presence of hybrids…..Good luck with those!
–Paul Lehman, San Diego