Monk Parakeet Invasion

So Much For a Monastic Vow of Silence
Monk Parakeet invasion, Milford-Stratford-Fairfield

May 17, 2008

monk2.jpgDuring the drive north from Stratford to Milford along a coastal byway in the middle of a full day’s trip to the area for some museums and random places that had no point, we (Rob C and I) noticed some giant masses of sticks up on power lines and in trees.

“Holy cow they have a serious squirrel situation down here,” we thought aloud. Little did we know…

It turns out, those MASSIVE nests are actually those of the rather out-of-place Monk Parakeets. We marveled at their sheer enormity, heard some of their obnoxious scrawlching and I made a note to figure out what this was all about. What I found fascinated me… and judging by the 9500 Google hits, I’m not alone.

A brief excerpt from one such article:

Monk parakeets have populated the state’s coastline and are believed to be the only species of parakeet able to live outdoors in the Northeast, according to Noble Proctor, professor of biology and internationally renowned ornithologist. Their local presence probably began with the opening of a crate of the birds at Kennedy Airport in New York during the late 1960s, Living says.

Proctor is credited with the first sighting in Connecticut in the mid-1970s at Lighthouse Point Park in East Haven. “It was really a stunner when they arrived,” Proctor recalls.

The birds are usually bright green with gray “hoods,” hence the name monk parakeet. In rare cases, the birds are blue or yellow. They possess notoriously loud speech patterns and gather in large numbers, which magnifies the volume. “They are up at dawn and you can often hear hundreds of the birds chattering at the same time,” Proctor says. “It’s penetrating.”

…Connecticut has the country’s fastest growth rate of the birds… their larger amount of body fat helps them cope with lower temperatures.

…”Their nests are very large, with one in Milford that’s the size of a Volkswagen,” Living says. The monk parakeets live inside their nests and often share the outer portion with other birds and even squirrels…

I imagine it is annoying to live next to these guys… and if they are destroying electrical infrastructure, well, then bye, bye birdie – in my opinion. I’m against all invasive species anyway.

Back to CTMQ’s Animals page

monk-parakeet.jpg

Learn more:

Excellent article on the phenomenon.
Anecdotal stories about the invasion
Photo gallery of the birds in Connecticut.
Stop “murdering” the birds!
Make laws to stop the “murder!”
Sign the petition to stop the killing!

22 responses to “Monk Parakeet Invasion”

  1. Bob B says:

    I am a graduate student doing potentially doing my thesis on managing these birds in CT. They are an invasive species that can cause agricultural damage and cost the utility companies a FORTUNE to deal with. I also own one as a pet and they are not a pleasant bird to live around. Unfortunately people do not research them enough and most of the time are completely one sided. Please do not sign the petition to keep them in CT.

  2. ron says:

    just a note there is a population of monks at willow brook

  3. Angry At You says:

    i think that it is awful that u want 2 kill the birds!
    this is their home 2 u selfish S.O.B!

  4. Steve says:

    Actually, Angry, this is NOT their home. That’s the problem. Back at their real home, the climate is warm enough to support their nests in trees rather than the artificial warmth of the transformers they routinely destroy.

    They are an invasive species, just like multiflora rose and snakeheads. Most invasive species destroy the habitat they thrive in as there are no ecological or evolutionary counter-species to keep their populations in check.

    Your IP pings to Bridgeport, so I can only assume you’ve seen these birds, so I’ll give you a point. Unfortunately, your juvenile use of “2″ and “U” as well as calling me names takes away 2 points, leaving you in the negative.

  5. Pico says:

    Steve, you have no idea. Open your eyes. Is it really morally right to just kill to solve problems? Invasive or not, they are here because of humans, that does not mean they should just die. There are SOOOOO many other solutions to this problem. hmm.. your annoying me, so I’m just going to kill you. GREAT solution.
    p.s.- Not everyone hates their squaking.

  6. Pico says:

    Whats your email? I’ll send you my research paper when I’m finished. You can read it and MAYBE, just maybe try to understand things from a humane viewpoint.

  7. Steve says:

    Pico – You can reach me via email by clicking on the “Contact” button on the top right-hand side. I’d be interested in your paper.

    As for your contention that I “have no idea,” I would challenge that. I have a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I don’t eat meat. I find factory farming to be reprehensible on every level. I have never understood the appeal of hunting or even fishing. I’m sorry I annoyed you with my stance on these birds and I appreciate that you are more “humane” than I am.

    What are the “SOOOO many other solutions?” Can I hook you and the first commenter up via email (assuming his is still valid)? Do you feel this strongly about other non-cute invasive animal species like the snakehead? What about the emerald ash borer? If not, why not? What’s your criteria and where does the cut-off occur on the bird-fish-insect scale?

    These birds are a real problem and show no signs of slowing down. I agree that they are here because of humans. However, I assume you also know they only thrive here BECAUSE of humans via the artificial warm nesting sites of transformer poles. Take away all the awful humans in CT and all their awful telephone poles and guess what? The birds die an awful freezing death.

    As for you contention that not everyone hates their riotous squawking, I suppose I can’t argue you there. After all, Katy Perry is very successful.

  8. Pico says:

    First of all, you are wrong about us being the only reason they are thriving in our environment. They are actually able to withstand our environment because they are used to colder weathers back in South America; they live in the mountains. I’m sure you know how temperature varies as climate increases because I’m sure you learned about it in class. Not only that but they have enough fat on their bodies to survive and are hardy birds compared to many other parrot species. Also, their nests are built with an extreme thickness that helps insulate and hold heat when they all sit together in their community nests. These nests hold heat whether on transformer poles or not. They did not just start building this type of nest because they found transformer poles in CT, this is how they have been doing it for generations and generations back in South America. Im sure they are attracted to the heat, but not all the quaker parrot nests in CT are built on transformers, their are other nests that are thriving just fine. Aka, they don’t NEED us. And we’re the assholes who took them and brought them here anyways. Trust me, I have the same education background you have, have taken all these wonderful classes, and that doesn’t change my view as to your ignorance towards these parrots, it only adds to it. Invasive species occur, they will always occur with the way humans live bringing species over on boats, planes, you name it. Yes some species will overcome others, problems always occur with human interference, and thats why we should just stay out, death is not the answer though. The world is just becoming a mix of species and only the fittest will end up surviving, that’s just how it is today, we suck for making it that way, but we did. For you to say that it is okay to kill these birds because they are annoying just makes me question why your even trying to be a vegetarian, whats the difference between killing them and killing others? Why not just eat all the quaker parrots that you think should be killed? Ew, your making me sick. Killing is killing. It’s all wrong and its not a feasible solution. As for other invasive species, yes I feel this strongly, are you kidding me?!!! Whats the difference? None, there is no difference at all, they all have this right of life. They are simply just trying to spread their genes into the next generation and reproduce like any other species main goal in life. As for the SOOO many other solutions, just do the research and you will find them, or even use your educated brain. The main problem is that people don’t want to spend the money on them, which is sadly how our society is. For example, spikes, they’re useful in many places, no bird will nest on those. Hmm what else, these birds do not like the color orange, use that as a way to ward them off. Build nesting platforms on top of the poles to encourage nesting there instead of the areas where they are unwanted, aka transformers. there are just so many other options other than death, but they all involve money, which no one cares enough to spend. I can respect you being against invasive species and not enjoying their presence, because specific species live where they live for particular reasons, and that should not be fucked with. But once it occurs, that’s just the way it is. what’s done is done. Again, death is not the solution and the strongest will survive. I just cannot respect you supporting the death of these innocent birds who are much smarter and much more personable than I believe you know of. That is why I am saying that you have no idea, that is why I’m becoming so frustrated towards this topic. You have no idea the feeling that these birds have, or at least you can’t look deep enough to identify the pain and fear of the gassing and slaughter that humans thrust upon them. I don’t know why humans value their lives more so than other species. I mean, while taking your evolutionary biology classes you should have learned how humans only came into play on this earth after billions and billions of species were here before us, and that our existence on this planet is microscopic compared to how long this planet has been around and how long other species have been around. Who are you to think your life has so much more value than these birds, or any other species for that matter? I just feel like your a hypocrite for even trying to be a vegetarian. To see the existence of these birds on my college campus makes me so thankful that they have been able to overcome the inhumane attempts to dispose of their species on our lands. Props to them if they can be the ones who win. Each time I hear that distinct squak, I know who is winning and it makes me so glad. I apologize if you never get the chance to appreciate life like I do, but I beg of you to at least try, because let me tell you, its frekin amazing! The life of a human, the life of a bird, the life of an insect, nothing becomes devalued.
    I just wanted to thank you for having this conversation with me, it has been great practice for my presentation that I am making, I am very confident in my beliefs now and I am happy to share it with others. I don’t see you as a bad person, I just think that you don’t understand yet. Good luck to you and I hope you can take what I have said and try to understand me and my values. Have a good night.
    btw- my name’s not Pico. That’s the name of my Quaker Parrot. Just type that and quaker parrot into youtube and you will understand. He’s actually best friends with a lovebird. You may begin to like him?

  9. Pico says:

    p.s. Steve- where did u go to school?

    p.s. Bob B.- they make AMAZING pets!

  10. Bob B. says:

    Obviously Pico has done some one-sided internet homework. Like most people do. That’s the problem. People hear one side of the story and it fits into his/her interests and he/she runs with it. Pico, you should try reading professional papers on the matter. Papers that are written by people that are experts in his/her field and have done the research. I understand that people don’t want to kill thousands of birds because they see them as individuals. I also understand that humans brought the parakeets here and it’s our fault. I also understand that in CT monk parakeets do not really compete with native wildlife as much as other invasives because they build their own homes where other animals cannot. The fact of the matter is that all invasives should be treated as invasives. Whether it be a monk parakeet, purple loosestrife, or stray cats and dogs. Exotic species help every single American everyday but once that exotic becomes an issue to health, safety or convenience then it becomes an invasive that needs to be dealt with. I don’t know your background but it helps to look at both sides of the story. Here is a CT based non-profit’s website to help get you started. This organization is headed by a Yale MS and Cornell PhD whose focus is on eradicating non-native species to restore ecosystems and native wildlife. http://www.whitebuffaloinc.org

  11. Pico says:

    Obviously Bob didn’t get the main point of my post. Please do not assume that I have done one sided research, because you are very wrong. I have ready many professional papers and experiments on this topic and my views stand as is. Whether you like it or not. I am pretty sure I have made it clear that I have a very large knowledge of what invasive species are and the damage they can cause. Again, repeating myself for the fifth time, my belief holds that killing is not an acceptable way of management. Again, there are other ways to handle these species if necessary. Also, I do not believe that people should interfere anymore than they already have. Eradicating non-native species in my opinion is just playing more into the puzzle than needs to occur. Whats done is done in my opinion, and whats done should remain. And if there is a health/ safety concern, then matters should be handled in an appropriate way. aka not killing to handle the issue, whether a bird or any other invasive species. If you do not understand my point here let me make it clear for you one more time: I am not arguing that invasive species are beneficial to environments, because they can completely change the ecosystem, I am arguing that when we change something, which we should never do, the species should not be penalized for it, and if necessary for health and safety, the appropriate matters should be taken, and death is not one of them. Do you understand my point now? Again for the last time: death is never a way to handle any issue. ANY issue.
    btw- I dont know what kind of relationships you have with your pets, but maybe you should consider spending more time with your birds, because with enough care and the appropriate attention, parrots make amazing pets.

  12. Steve says:

    Hoo boy.

    First, I wonder if certain browsers disallow paragraphs in the comments. I’m guessing yes and that’s very annoying to me. Anyway…

    Pico (sorry, that’s all I know to call you) – I think your position is valid as long as you remain consistent in it. This will prove very difficult as you get older as you’ll find life throws you many curveballs. I wish you luck in your idealistic pursuit.

    Also, when debating a topic, it hurts your position to assume what the counter-arguer may believe. I don’t think I ever suggested that “killing” these birds was the only solution. If your humane and not-too-costly solutions actually work, I’m all for them. Who wouldn’t be? Your misplacing your anger and letting your emotions get the best of you.

    You love birds. You love all animals. You are against killing and attempt to live a death-free life, though I assume you realize just how impossible that is. That’s great! You’re even attempting to save a species through intelligent intervention. My point is, you’re not going to convince anyone with a condescending attitude and arguments based on emotion.

    The sticking point seems to be whether or not these birds are living in a valid habitat. You’ll admit they arrived here artificially. You state that they can handle CT’s climate without human intervention. I’ll take your word for it… But so what? They are here unnaturally.

    I take great pains to keep my yard invasives free. (Plants). This is rather difficult to do, but I strive to do it. Next time I’m at SHU, I’ll walk around campus and look for signs of purple loosestrife eradication or emerald ash borer traps. I’ll hang around waiting for you to come by to explain how the emerald ash borer is a lovely beetle who merely hitched a ride from China and all those trees they are killing deserve to die because we brought the beetle here.

    Once in a while, although I agree we humans are but a speck in the godless universe, self-preservation becomes a bit more important than saving a fellow creature which is here artificially.

    (Of course, I suppose you could argue that we – assuming you are not of native american descent – are here artificially too.)

  13. Pico says:

    Thanks for your concern, and please don’t hang around my campus waiting for me to come by, that would be extremely creepy. I am well aware of the damage that other species can have on foreign habitats. I understand your beetle argument, and in my opinion, the trees will die and the beetle species will overcome. Im not saying that I want the trees to die off, but that’s just what happens when we introduce new species, maybe we will learn from it. The ecosystem can fix itself anyways, and different is not always a bad thing, the ecosystem has been changing for years, species have been migrating forever, and your right, even us. Well, I think that the monkeys should have killed us off when we first came on this continent, (no im just kidding but this is like what your saying), that its okay to just control species because they are non-native. Do you think we should murder immigrants too? (obviously I know the answer to that but I’m just making a point). I bet some new species will come in and eat the beetles eventually, therefore save the trees. Everything is connected in that way. Just because a species is here unnaturally, does not mean they should be killed for it. Mother nature can take care of that. Also, my “assumption” on you wanting to kill off the parrots was not just an assumption, your “bye bye birdie” comment was a very strong indication of your opinion on this topic. You saying: “If your humane and not-too-costly solutions actually work, I’m all for them”, makes it looks like you are contradicting yourself because you already made it clear that you want the birds out, so why would you now be okay with my solutions? You already know my solutions and they are not forcing any species out. As for my “idealistic pursuit”, I don’t believe that trying to stop killing is very unreachable or idealistic. There are many other people who are also against murder, under ANY circumstances. Honestly, it blows my mind how anyone could go around shaking swan eggs, slaughtering parrots, or smashing beetles to try and prevent them from living in a new environment. I understand it’s so save other species, but that will happen on its own, things will even off, and why kill to save?

    p.s. your inappropriate jab at my age makes your argument look weak, if you need to go to that level I am sorry. I do not need to justify my knowledge or experience to you, and like you said, you should not just assume things.

  14. mich says:

    Iwas introduced to monk parakeets in fall 2008 by 2 professors at Southern CT State U. The chairman of the biology department has been studying them for 20+ years and have testified in court against having the UI killing them. Instead we really need to study and undrstand them. I have been doing an independent project on them and will probably do a thesis on them. They build nests in the New Haven area primarily in White Pine and some have taken to Oak and Maple trees. Occassionally, I have seen some nests in white birches. They are a fascinating species and so far I haven’t read where they have done any crop damage to the area. Sparrows I have noticed have actually assisted the monks with building their nests and do share one of the other open chambers with them. I have done 2 presentations on them at SCSU. I have also done a little research of them in FL near the Tampa area and hope to go back there and study them and compare them with the ones in the north. I have read numerous articles and thesis papers on them. My study is actuallay on nesting behavior and what they use to build their nests and what type of material they use for bedding. All of this is fascinating to me. So before anyone feels they should be eradicated because they are noisy or their population is increasing or any other reason they should look at the big picture, look, watch, and listen to them. Observe them and see how interesting they are when they carry twigs twice their size and weight and weave them into an existing nest or the start of one. Thank you Dr. Smith and Dr. Ramirez for opening my eyes and mind to them.

  15. Bob Smith says:

    Would like to rescue a few if I can as house pets if I can. I quess 4 would be ok.. I have X large Bird cages(518) 526-9269
    1174 Darby Hill Rd., Delanson NY Thanks

  16. Steve says:

    I used to think CTMQ attracted intelligent readers.

  17. Garrett says:

    Ok you guys are really getting into this to much. The birds are a problem, kill birds, BBQ, and problem solved.

  18. verna narcovich says:

    I just want to say, a few years ago(3) we had those birds here living around our neighborhood, they were cool birds but yes, they made our transformers burn out and we really had problems so they took down the nests several times. They rebuilt and again we took them down, now the birds are gone, it was nice having an unusual bird here but not so nice having problems.

  19. verna narcovich says:

    I forgot to mention i live in riverside RI. verna narcovich

  20. Thomas says:

    The ugly power poles should all be taken down and the wires should go underground. This is the future. Then UI would not have this problem.

  21. Dean says:

    Humans. The ultimate invasive species.

  22. peaver says:

    we would all welcome the Carolina paraqueet back if it could be revived from extinction….same goes for the passenger pigeon……instead we have monk paraqueets and Eurasian collared doves…we should embrace them and study them and learn to live with them,,,we exterminated the Carolinas and passengers…we should be honored that any species should join us and thrive,,,no matter how they got here….and I am an avid hunter,trapper and taxidermist…put up nest poles for them ….purple martins would be extinct too if not for man putting up houses for them…and you know how noisy they are.

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