Feral Parrots and California Sunsets

Last Friday as I was driving home from work, the sun decided to make a brief appearance after a gloomy and partially rainy day. It came out from behind layers of clouds that were painted across the sky like brushstrokes, and then started arcing toward the horizon line, leaving a trail of golden red.

I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and set out to photograph. As I was walking toward the beach, I heard a familiar squawking sound coming from the palm trees. I looked up to find dozens upon dozens of slender green bodies flying from one palm tree to the next. 

It was the feral parrots in all of their glory.

According to the Orange County Register, there were originally only five feral parrots living in Long Beach in 1987. How they got here, I'm not entirely sure, but according to a former ornithology professor at Cal State Long Beach, there are now over 200 of them in my neighborhood of Belmont Shore. From the sounds and sights of them -- squawking and carrying on like a band of ill-behaved children running through a restaurant -- I would easily believe it. For the majority of the day, these parrots are hiding out in their secret roosting spot and you wouldn't even know they exist. At sunset, however, the world is theirs and the rest of us are just living in it.

I've been wanting to photograph them for ages; yet, I was having difficulty steadying my hand. The palm trees were impossibly tall and I unfortunately don't have a tripod. These were the best I could do with the zoom lens on my point and shoot digital camera. If you want to see some professional photos, the Long Beach Press Telegram has a great collection of them here.

After a few meager attempts at capturing the parrots with my camera, I then walked down to the pier to find a sunset that had only become richer and more vivid. It was then that I fully realized something I've been working on for the past several months now, and that is the importance of pausing and enjoying life. The importance of treating myself like an actual person, and not just an unfeeling robot who does nothing but grade essays every minute of the day. I realized that I can decide to be either of those two people, no matter how intense or demanding work gets. It's always my choice, so it's time I start choosing wisely. 

I'll talk more about this in a later blog post, but for now, I hope you enjoy the photos -- and take time to watch some sunsets of your own.