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Bright Green Monsters

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Verdant beasts prowl the skies above Highland park. When first you're at some backyard bar-b-que up here, and perchance to look up and see one of them, you might think someone slipped an acid tab in your beer. And maybe they did, but what you're seeing is real enough. If you've ever been to South America, you'll recognize the sight straight away: Arroyo country is infested with free-flying parrots.

Now: Some may take umbrage with our use of the word "infested." The adjective connotes a pestilence, and parrots have a reputation for being rare and exotic creatures as opposed to pests. In their finer moments, mimicking human speech, it's hard not to anthropomorphize the little buggers. But in the wild, parrots don't talk: They only shriek a terrible, raking cry, like a human child being skinned alive.

Apocryphal legends abound as to where the feral parrot population of the Northside originated, most centering around one or another small South Pasadena pet store with reputations for shoddy environmental practices, but one thing is clear: The parrots have been loose for at least a decade now, they're breeding rapidly, and they're not going anywhere.