Bird #385 — Monk Parakeet

myiopsitta (from myia, a fly, and psitta, a parrot) monachus (a monk)

Saturday, March 31, 2001 — 12:15 pm

Elmhurst, Illinois — Parker Street

Last December, there was a message on IBET about this colony of Monk Parakeets. I printed it off and waited for an opportunity. Today I was looking for something to do with my daughter. I determined on a multi-purpose trip. We visited a used bookstore in Palatine, toured the new library in Des Plaines, and searched for the parakeets.

It wasn’t much of a search. I drove to the spot, a power-line clearing through a middle-class neighborhood, and stopped the car. We saw a huge stick nest in a nearby electrical tower. It was about the size of a refrigerator. Within a minute, we saw a parakeet fly to the nest. I got out of the car and saw three more fly by at eye-level about 30 yards off to the right, across a field. Then a strange, harsh cry penetrated my consciousness. I turned around and saw six more Monks in a small tree 30 feet away. They were systematically breaking off small branches and twigs. Whenever one would break off a branch, it would fly with it to the tower. The twigs were slender, but some were as long as the birds.

Some birds flew to a second tower where I saw four or five smaller branch nests, each about the size of a bushel basket. There was also a smaller bundle in the original tower. Parakeets were flying everywhere around the area. Some headed out over a row of trees on the other side of the clearing. Their calls were constantly ringing around the neighborhood.

We spent about 10 minutes watching them, then headed for home, stopping at Einstein Brothers for bagel dogs for lunch.

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