Monk Parakeets

November, 2008 by Ray Bendici

The Damned Story: One man's joy is another man's nuisance.

And nowhere is that more evident than in the case of the monk (or Quaker) parakeets that now inhabit a number of towns along the Connecticut coast, including Fairfield, Milford, Stratford, Hamden, New Haven, the 'Stavens (West and East) and Orange. For bird-lovers and friends of nature, the colorful and noisy creatures are a glorious marvel, a tropical out-of-place species that somehow has managed to flourish in the cold and cruel Northeast. For city officials and the United Illuminating Co. [UI], the parakeets are a scourge and a hazard as their enormous nests -- often built atop utility poles -- have caused fires and power outages.

The two sides have been at odds -- and in courts -- over the past few years as the war over the birds have escalated. In 2005, with legal backing, UI staged an aggressive eradication program where they not only removed hundreds of nests but also (with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) euthanized thousands of birds, ruffling the feathers of animal-protecton groups everywhere. They have organized and struck back -- UI now only regularly removes nests and not birds, who come back and re-build the nests in a short amount of time.

The parakeets have seemingly thrived despite all the legal tanglings and attempts at extermination. Despite technically being an invasive species, the hardy birds have not disrupted the local ecology in any discernible way. The local weather is somewhat similar to their native habitat; it's believed that their giant nests are what enable them to survive the colder winters.

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Of course, the question is how did the feathered immigrants -- native to South America, and not known to migrate -- arrive in Connecticut in the first place? The story goes that the birds were escapees from a Kennedy Airport shipment in the late 1960s and flew across Long Island Sound before settling in Connecticut. Others think that the birds started out as escaped pets (they were first brought to the U.S. in large numbers around the time of the Kennedy Airport story) and have become feral. Large colonies of them can be found elsewhere in the country, including in Chicago, Ill. and Brooklyn, N.Y.

No one is really sure how they monk parakeets got here -- and the birds, while squawking plenty, aren't saying anything.

If You Go: As indicated above, there are a number of towns along the shoreline where you can find monk parakeets, although as with any wild creature, it's hard to guarantee where they will be at any given moment. (Hence the "wild" designation.) In Milford, they have generally been seen in the downtown area as well as on Pelham and Meadowside streets. In Fairfield, they have been spotted along Round Hill Rd. In West Haven, along Capt. Thomas Blvd.

Comments

Submitted by Heather (not verified) on

I actually know the origin of the parakeets.... Funny as this is going to sound! They appeared in Stamford in the early 90's after a truck transporting them was involved in an accident. A good number of them got loose and thus, over the years the population of them has expanded and moved north along the coast.

Wish it was a more interesting story!!! lol

Actually, Heather, although that is a common 'answer' to the mystery of the parakeets, it is not true. Or rather, there is no proof, no record of any truck ever turning over. I have also heard that they were in a crate on a ship and it was dropped on the dock, as well as the crazy pet store owner story. Everyone "knows" the answer, but in fact they just heard it from a "reliable source" - i.e. someone else who "knows."

No one knows, I'm afraid. But it's fun to wonder!

P.S. I talk about these little green mysteries in my book Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City.

Submitted by Lenny (not verified) on

The truth of the matter is this. The parakeets escaped from the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport about 15 years ago. Being already used to the weather conditions of Connecticut, they colonized around the coastal area and have since, spread to other areas of the state.

Submitted by Rick Miller (not verified) on

The broken crate, dropped crate, escaped from zoo story is the same here in Chicago.
We have several large flocks of quakers, with nests in Hyde Park, Evanston, and Glenview.

The truth is probably more along the lines of pets that were released because the owners found them too demanding as pets, and set them free!

I have two hand raised quakers as pets, and they are truly wonderful creatures, with the cognitive ability of a 6 to 10 year old child.

Submitted by Jr (not verified) on

I must disagree as I know the ones in milford have been nesting there since at least the late 1970's.

Submitted by jack (not verified) on

Electric Company executives should be euthanized and castrated. As far as parakeets goes, why cant CT DEP build special nests for them or relocate them. Whats wrong with you people.
US Dept of Agriculture is a corrupt organization whos job is to shove gentically modified foods into our bodies, so what that it gives you cancer.

Submitted by MY2cents (not verified) on

Lenny was close,,, the birds escaped from the Railway Express Terminal in Bridgeport and for years lived in a huge evergreen tree in Bridgeports Barnum park befor branching out.

Submitted by tom (not verified) on

I spotted them in Black Rock in the early 90's. Every now and then they come to my feeder.

Submitted by Beach Lover (not verified) on

Now, daily sightings around Clinton's shoreline. Noisy little creatures! But, so are the seagulls....as long as they aren't damaging powerlines...it's just another sound added to the mixture of the squawking, tweeting of the other birds. They seem to be happy in the trees.

Submitted by norm way (not verified) on

Had occasion to be in Old Saybrook , CT this September,2011. My wife and I were enjoying a Historical Park at Saybrook Point when we heard birds sqwauking from several trees in the area. They were green and have just now learned they were the Monk Parakeet. They added a nice surprise to what was a wonderful stay in the area.....Send some out to Arizona for us to marvel at...Have seen a few "Mexican Parrots" in the Tucson area...Norm Way

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on

Ijust saw my first one in my field in Western Massachusetts...so calm, so different....I thought i was seeing things... it was 3 feet away and just sat on a fence top and we just stared at each other for 3-5 minutes then flew to the top of one of my big trees...awesome

Submitted by Ven (not verified) on

I actually saw a whole flock of them across from the Stratford Train Station (New York Side) back when i used to take the train to school. They love that huge tree right across from the platform and it never failed, i would see them roosting there in the summer months with their babies. They were loud, mischevious, too smart for their own good and messed up the platform and surrounding area with their poop. But, i do have to admit, nothing like catching sight of these Parakeets in the winter months, the green up against the stark white is really a sight.

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on

One snow storm did more damage then these parakeets could do in fifty years.

Submitted by Reenie (not verified) on

Twice this Fall, I've spotted a flock, or heard the squawk of monk parakeets in my Trumbull backyard! An avid birder, this was a first! Haven't spotted any nests -- they appear to be passing through. Have only seen them nesting in Stratford, Milford, Fairfield until now over the last 20 years.

Submitted by Reenie (not verified) on

Years ago, my fascination was sparked by these communal chattery critters when I actually stumbled upon a large, old, magestic tree in Black Rock, St. Mary's By The Sea area, that had partially fallen/broken under the weight of their huge twig filled nests. The residents I talked with there seemed to take the birds' choice of real estate in stride. Fortunately, no power lines involved, but not sure if the tree made it. The Monks dispersed, moved elsewhere nearby... guess they like our area!

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on

I have been seeing them fly between Bridgeport and Fairfield since the early 90's, and a couple of years ago I got a good look at a flock of about 100 parrots at Taylor Farm Park in Norwalk.

Submitted by Ed (not verified) on

I live on the coast in Stratford and I have 6-8 almost everyday at my birdfeeders and in my front tree. Sometimes they wait on the power lines waiting for me to put food out in the morning. They co-exist fine with the other birds at the feeders.

Submitted by Austin (not verified) on

The Carolina parakeet that used to live naturally in the United States had many of the same habits. It was eradicated early last century. The Quaker (Monk) parakeets are simply filling an artificially emptied ecological niche.

Submitted by Dan (not verified) on

Monk parakeets have been living wild in Milford for at least 40 years. I remember seeing them as a child in our backyard on Manor Drive.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on

I Was in Edgewater NJ this afternoon, Easter Sunday, and heard a loud clattering noise like that I used to hear in Southeast Asia in the '60's. When I focused on the location of the racket I noticed several large basket-like nests high in the utility poles and trees along route 5 there. Then I saw the bright green tails of the parrots, lot's of them!

I remembered seeing some of them on my lawn in my home town of Stamford and down by the Cove a few years ago. But never so many as this, and I never noticed their nests before.
Neat!

Submitted by Mary H. (not verified) on

I am the proud owner of a monk parakeet that is a rescue from when I lived down in Florida. I love the way he interacts with me...too bad the guy who originally owned him mistreated him. I remember seeing these little guys near St. Mary's By The Sea in Black Rock.

Submitted by Wendy (not verified) on

I live in the Black Rock area of Bridgeport also, and was amazed the first time I saw these little guys... or not so little! they are so round and cute- but SO noisy! I can't decide who's noisier, the crows, the seagulls, or the parakeets! LOL! They drive my kitties crazy! There are about a dozen of their giant nests in our neighborhood, and although I've seen them almost every day for the month that I've lived here, I still smile when they perch nearby one of my windows- they are just so pretty! But what a dilema they create on the telephone poles! I was surprised to hear of the euthanization, but understand the need to remove them from the "premesis" also.... I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision, that's for sure! Poor babies! it's not their fault!

Submitted by Angela (not verified) on

^
I'm in Milford, CT.

Submitted by Angela (not verified) on

I have two outside my bedroom window most days. Very noisy, fun to watch.

Submitted by Felice (not verified) on

Two flew over my Trumbull backyard today just today, & over the years have seen or heard them briefly-just passing through.

I live on the Fairfield side of Bridgeport, CT. I own a Hahns macaw, a beautiful, intelligent
creature. Since acquiring the bird I have noticed a few Quaker parrots in the neighborhood.
I located the nest close to St. Vincent's Hospital off Main Street. I noticed most nests are made in large pines. I pity the person who lives near the nest for they are noisy.

I new there was a problem with the UI and nests but didn't realize they euthanized those lovely birds. Shame on the company! I am sure there are more creative approaches--something could have been set up for them, funded by the state or charities which could have created jobs for the area.

Submitted by Thomas (not verified) on

I still say that the warm transformers should be placed on the ground. Similar to those utility pole free communities which have all the wires underground as well.

Submitted by burdbrain (not verified) on

saw them this evening entering their giant twig nest high up in a tree. bright flashes of green and noisy! was in Oyster Point, New Haven...

Submitted by Amy (not verified) on

Had the pleasure last week Sept 2012 while fishing at Dock & Dine Old Saybrook Point a Flock of Approx. 16 monks sat in a tree squawking away, the bright green was so pretty and they seemed to be having quite the conversation. Just wondering what happens when a baby is found if CT does not consider them legal. Do they kill it?

Submitted by Joan (not verified) on

I spotted 6 of them flying and then resting in a tree in Paradise Green area of Stratford on 10/25/12. I have seen them before in many different areas of Stratford and are always am delighted.

Submitted by paulcohello (not verified) on

Can I hire an exterminator in tucson to take care of these?

Submitted by joe (not verified) on

When I went to Bridgeport, I saw those birds in a tree. Very loud.

Submitted by Liane (not verified) on

Hi,

I am an animal behavior professor and am interested in knowing the location of nests in Bridgeport. If you know of any please comment giving street names

Submitted by MikeK (not verified) on

I grew up in Connecticut but have been in Southern California for over 25 years now.
I live in a Los Angeles suburb called South Pasadena and we also have a parrot "problem."
Hundreds and hundreds of them. Very skwaky.

I was interested to learn that there is a similar situation in my former home state.

http://www.weirdca.com/location.php?location=112

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on

These monk parakeets also lived outside my Aunt's Home in Black Rock. She loved seeing them everyday!

Submitted by Tony (not verified) on

Submitted by LizM (not verified) on

I just saw two of these gorgeous birds in our backard yesterday. We live off of East Broadway, right by the beach.
I don't understand why no one has put up nesting poles. It's done for Ospreys, then why not for these little guys?

Submitted by Elizabeth (not verified) on

One just landed on my deck chair just north of Fairfield U., then proceeded to bang into the window before latching onto the sill. He has an orange forehead, though, not like the photo. I guess he is a monk parakeet. Nice surprise for a soggy Sat. morning.

Submitted by Linda Baron (not verified) on

I have a Monk that was rescued along with 99 other chicks from a tree that went down in a storm in Bridgeport. The Connecticut and NY Audubon Societies launched the rescue. If anyone knows the date of this rescue, please email me at [email protected]. It was 23 years ago or more when it happened and I was one of the lucky ones to adopt a chick. Molly Greenbird is a love and a faithful companion and I wouldn't trade her for anything.

I remember when I lived on Captain Thomas Blvd. some 20 years ago, I saw one only once. A few years later, while visiting the area, I noticed that there were many of them in West Haven. It seems that they have migrated up the coast.

As a child I remember them being in Black Rock, St. Mary's by The Sea (Bridgeport) and especially near the Mt. Grove Cemetery. They are pretty to see, but they are quite noisy creatures.

Now we see that even Armadillos are slowly migrating up to CT as well, another interesting creature that will soon inhabit the CT Shore.

I have seen them at Short Beach in Stratford as well as in Milford as long as 20 years ago, they were still considered novelties by all except those who lived in Saint Mary's By The Sea (Bridgeport) which is where the Connecticut flock appears to have originated.

Opossums have also emigrated from South America to inhabit the North - the only marsupial in North America, now the Armadillo is rapidly moving up to CT as well - not to mention the mountain lion struck by a car recently in Milford. 20 years ago we rarely saw a bear, coyote, buzzard, wild turkey or eagle, nowadays we only bother to look at them if they are dancing!

40 years ago, deer were uncommon when I grew up in Monroe. We saw opossums, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional deer and raccoon. Nowadays, Monroe is like the zoo.

Submitted by Vic (not verified) on

When did they first show up in the Peterson guide?

Submitted by Bill B (not verified) on

I see groups of these parakeets around my home in Hamden, Ridge Hill area.
This past year I spotted a large nest on the Veterans Hospital grounds in West Haven right on the corner of Cambell Ave and West Spring St in those big trees just inside the wall.

They might have a nest down on State St in Hamden right next to the Bald Eagle nest, if you know where that is.
They don't bother me although can get loud. But no louder than my neighbors kids or dogs.

Submitted by orlando (not verified) on

is it illegal to take one from the wild and breed them to increase population?

Submitted by Mary (not verified) on

Just was curious if anyone has seen or knows where a nest is now I have heard so much about these birds but have never seen them?

Submitted by Sam (not verified) on

In the spring sometime in the early 60's. (1962 or 63) Our family had a fire in our home and our pet parakeets were lost. During the transition my godparents were taking us to stay with them until we could sort out things. In the car after they picked us up they presented us and our two cousins with little boxes they said were a gift. We were all so excited we opened the boxes and within seconds 5 parakeets were just a blurry memory. Out the open windows they flew. We were somewhere in the Merdian Middletown area. Lots of tears.

Submitted by Nelson (not verified) on

I owned a Home in the Middlesex area and had a few living in a pine tree high on the top of the tree, they are loud but being a bird lover I had no problems with them. I remember that they would fly around the neighborhood in a flock and return to there nest they were gone one day and I don't know what ever happened because we sold the House. I miss mornings just watching them fly around really beautiful birds.

On friday the 13, 2014 we stumbled upon an enormous 3 foot long nest in Cummings park in Stamford Connecticut. There were, devaststatingly birds spread out allover the park road, which were crushed numerous times by unyeilding cars. We were shocked at the what looked like bird massacre. Unable to bare the crushing over and over I had a local boy, who was compassionate enough to try and help and stay nearby as the mother screamed above while watching her babies become dissolved into the road, remove their remains onto the treebelt. We searched through all the debris, and the nest and I found one bird with his head down not moving near the edge of the road. I saw he was breathing, and immediately but gently embraced him and held him on my chest. today he has weak legs but he is learning to flight a little now. He still cannot hold onto branches and dottles as he walks, but his unique talk and rocking is so sweet. He is becoming stronger and stronger and loves white peaches, south american bananas. He's become such a special friend. WE hope he is strong enough one day so that we can let him go rejoin his family. Shame to the law for exterminating such precious beings.

On June friday the 13, 2014 we stumbled upon an enormous 3 foot long nest in Cummings park in Stamford Connecticut. There were, devastatingly birds spread out all over the park road, which were crushed numerous times by unyielding cars. We were shocked at the what looked like bird massacre. Unable to bare the crushing over and over, I had a local boy who was compassionate enough to try and help and stay nearby as the mother screamed above as she watched her babies become dissolved into the road, remove their remains onto the treebelt. We searched through all the debris and the nest and I found one bird with his head down barely moving near the edge of the road. He was breathing, so I immediately but gently embraced him and held him to my chest. Today he has weak legs, but he is learning to fly a bit now. He still cannot hold onto branches and dottles as he walks, but his unique talk and rocking is so sweet and he gains strength each day. He loves white peaches and tiny south american bananas. He's become such a special friend. We hope he is strong enough one day so that we can let him go and rejoin his family. Shame to the law for exterminating such precious beings.

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