Monday, June 11, 2012

Monk Parakeets

When most people think of parrots and parakeets living in the United States, images of birds in cages come to mind. However, there are actually a number of parrot and parakeet species that were introduced and have now established populations across the nation. Of these, the American Birding Association recognizes seven species in the Psittacidae family as being well-established in North America north of Mexico. Most of these species are restricted to Florida and Southern California, but the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) can be found in over a dozen states across the country.

It is believed that Monk Parakeets were accidentally released in the 1960s at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where they became feral and eventually bred and created a large number of colonies in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas. It is also likely that others later escaped or were released. This species, originally from South America, has also established colonies in western Europe. 

Although common in New York City and near Newark, NJ, Monk Parakeets are very uncommon in Pennsylvania. However, just the other day, a local birder received a report of parakeets nesting in Allentown, PA. The birder stopped by the location a few days later and found a pair of Monk Parakeets and their large nest! 

It's hard to imagine how much effort went into building a nest like this!

Over the weekend, my dad and I stopped by to check out the birds. The massive stick nest was easy to find. After a little while of waiting, one the parakeets flew out and perched on a nearby tree. Its loud, screeching call is unlike any bird in the area and reminded me of the noisy flocks of parrots I heard in Costa Rica! While this species is not native to the region, it is accepted by the American Birding Association (as are other non-native species like the European Starling and House Sparrow). That said, I am not sure how the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee will handle this species, as this may be the first breeding pair in the state. As of right now, I don't think "listers" can count this species for Pennsylvania, but in a couple of years this species may be added to the state list. 

Monk Parakeet; Allentown, PA

No comments: