New York City Birdwatcher’s Companion: Monk Parakeet
This post is an excerpt from the New York City Birdwatcher’s Companion.
The monk parakeet is an non-native species, originally from Argentina. Individuals can be identified by a green body, grey belly, and yellow patch on the back. This species builds multi-chambered, communal nests out of twigs and sticks. Nests can host up to 100 bird pairs. The parakeet has a long tapered tail compared to a parrot’s blunt tail. The gray patch on the head resembles a monk.
There are multiple theories that explain the release of monk parakeets into New York City. A number of individuals escaped from a crate at JFK Airport in 1967. The package was intended as a pet shop shipment. The US Fish and Wildlife Association received word about the growing parakeet presence and launched a control and removal program in the early 1970s, cutting the population in half. A decade earlier, the Argentineans launched a government-sponsored control program of their own because they considered the monk parakeet an agricultural pest. In 1975 the US program was aborted and populations began rebounding exponentially. This species thrived in urban areas outside the NY Metropolitan area, including Hyde Park in Chicago. The parakeets could withstand freezing winters, resembling the climate in the Andes mountains. The birds often take refuge along heat-producing transformers on electrical lines. Today a formidable colony lives at Green-Wood Cemetery Brooklyn, nested within the highest spire of a Gothic gatehouse entrance.
– Bright green with pale grey forehead and breast
– Dark blue underwing
– Orange beak