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They're common in California. But, some are non-native birds. Santa Barbara event looks at the issue

The European Starling is one of the non-native birds which has been common in California.
The European Starling is one of the non-native birds which has become common in California.

Some were brought to the state intentionally as game birds. But, most species started off as exotic pets from around the world, which escaped or were released.

European Starlings, Spotted Doves, Rock Pigeons, and Wild Turkeys. They are all species of birds found in the Tri-Counties. But, none of them are native to the region. 

They are part of a number of non-native species which have now become common in California, so common they’ve been added to the state birds list.

"There's 17 (species) that are considered well enough established that the body which determines what has a place on the state list, the California Birds Record Committee, has admitted those 17," said Kimball Garrett, who was the Ornithology Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. He's now a Research Associate.

He’s speaking about this issue at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History this week. He talks about what led to the situation:

"It's not like this magical line you cross. There are another roughly 20 that are on what we call our watch list."

Garrett explained how many of the non-native bird species got a foothold in the state.

"There are all birds that are here because of humans having transported them, either directly, or in some cases having transported them elsewhere in North America, and then they spread here," said Garrett. 

Some of the non-native species have found comfortable homes in our region, like the European Starling, "One good example is the nanday parakeet (also known as the black-hooded parakeet)." said Garrett. "It got established in Los Angeles, and spread west into Ventura County, and potentially into Santa Barbara County."

Garrett said in many cases, the non-native species aren’t an issue. But, in other cases they can pose problems for other species of birds, or even the habitat in general.

But, Garrett said trying to remove the non-native species in simply impractical. He said the best defense is better monitoring to block the importation of non-native species as pets.

Garrett will speak at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Thursday night. The 7:30 p.m. event is free, and sponsored by the Santa Barbara Audubon Society.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.