Best Interlopers (1999)


Here in Miami we love our immigrants. Each wave of newcomers brings exciting cultural detours, nuances, inventions. Just try getting pupusas and mondongo in Omaha. And what we love most in our new arrivals is colorfulness. No blending into the Zeitgeist, no assimilating by imitating. Stand up and stand out! Make some noise! The definitive example of perfection in invaders comes by way of the monk parakeet and its relatives. (Perhaps as many as 30 species of parrot have nested here, though only the gray-headed monk and the brightly hued canary-wing are established.) Parrots, led by the monk species, have flocked to our sunny climes, setting up shop throughout the urbanscape. No research has been conducted and estimates of numbers vary wildly, but we've all seen them light up the sky in flashes of green and yellow as flocks move from coconut tree to power pole to rooftop. Earnest breeders with no natural predators, the urban wingers are thriving, and so far, despite the putdowns of bigots posing as ecologists, are causing problems for no one except FPL, whose poles make for excellent parrot hangouts and nesting sites. Some people, offended by the birds' color or unusual way of speaking, claim the parrots pose a threat to citrus crops and to large birds scared away by squawking. These naysayers repeat the usual refrain: Go back to where you came from. Or worse. We say live and let screech.


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