An urban parrot

While waiting for family to assemble to go see the New Orleans Aquarium, I spotted a greenish parrot collecting nesting material from a nearby tree.   Actually, there were several parrots at the busy intersection where I waited in downtown New Orleans, chattering and flying about. I watched while one bird worried one of the twigs about twice as long as its own body length back and forth for several minutes until it finally broke off, and then flew away with the cumbersome stick in its beak.

A week later, when I finally had an internet connection again, I have managed to identify the bird as a Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monarchus) or Quaker Parrot.

Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monarchus

This bird worried the twig back and forth using its whole body, until it finally broke free.

After first selecting a twig that was too thick to break off, this bird worried a different twig back and forth using its whole body, until it finally broke free.

Monk Parakeets are the only parrots that build nests from sticks — other parrot species are hole nesters.  Since they are highly social, pairs like to nest near each other, and often will construct huge apartment house type nests, with separate entrances for each pair.

Finally got the twig free, and now attempting to fly off with it.

Finally got the twig free, and now attempting to fly off with the somewhat unwieldy length of it.

Monk Parakeet

Monk Parakeets are endemic to Argentina and other areas of South America, but have been introduced all over the world, and have adapted quite nicely to urban life in parks, as well as rural, farm life where they can be pests on various agricultural crops.

In addition to their success in adapting to a variety of environments, this species can tolerate temperate zone climates, and has established itself as far north in North America as New York, as well as in the UK and northern Spain.  They are highly intelligent and social birds, and are popular as pets because they can learn a great variety of words and expressions.

4 thoughts on “An urban parrot

  1. There are several varieties of parrots living in the south of the UK now. I just hope their populations which are in the thousands do not threaten native fauna and flora populations that are already under threat in this area.

    • Yes, that is a problem with introduced species — they wreak havoc with populations of native species. Maybe we will end up with globally homogeneous urban communities at some point.

  2. afrenchgarden makes a really good point. I love Quaker parakeets dearly, but like most exotics, they cause serious problems in areas where they are thriving. In Miami, there are huge colonies of them in local parks, with nests that are so large, they completely fill the tree they are in. It’s great fun to watch them, but it definitely causes problems for the native bird population. We birdsat a friend’s Quaker once, who was SO cute. He had learned to roll over on command for a peanut. When no one was telling him to do so, and he wanted a peanut, he would give himself the command and perform the trick. It was adorable. He was a really sweet little bird, though incredibly loud for his size.

    Your pictures are great, as always, Sue. Thanks for sharing them. If you ever run across a large nesting colony, you will be amazed at the structure they build. It’s communal, but as you say, every pair has its own opening to a private chamber. A true apartment complex! Or since they are more owners than renters, maybe it’s a condo! Especially in Miami.

    • I imagine it must be like the Weaver Birds in Africa, with nests so large they dwarf the tree and sometimes so weighty they topple them. I hope to see that someday.

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