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April 6, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Monk Parakeets

I did not run off to a tropical island (don’t I wish) and photograph parrots. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago in a Chicago suburb.

There are a number of feral colonies of Monk Parakeets, also know as Quaker Parrots, scattered across the US. These birds are not native to North America and no one is really sure how they got here. There are a lot of theories — they escaped from a zoo, a truck overturned and they flew away, they are escaped pets that banded together — but no one knows the real answer, and the birds aren’t telling.


A few weeks ago one of my bird club friends told me there was a colony of Monk Parakeets near my house, a few miles away along the prairie path. Really? And I never saw them? I had to correct that ASAP. After about a 10 minute wait a small group of them flew past me but only one was kind enough to pause briefly for a photo.

MonkMapInteresting Facts: (from

  • Also called Quaker Parrot, feral Monk Parakeets in the U.S. were first recorded in New York in 1967.
  • Although it is an invasive species, there has been little data showing a negative impact on either native species or agriculture. It is, however, often considered a nuisance as groups are very noisy and messy in foraging.
  • Its large, communal nests of sticks are easily identifiable and are often built on support poles of electrical lines.

The birds I saw were near a ComEd substation and most likely their nest was on one of the electrical poles, but I didn’t see it. I’ll be going back to find the nest and if I find it I’ll post the photos.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



  1. Ginny / Apr 6 2013 2:52 am

    Love your photo. We also have feral parakeets here on the edge of London. In fact there seem to be more and more of them around in recent years. I saw two in my back garden yesterday, despite the snow flurries.


    • Leslie / Apr 6 2013 7:28 pm

      They must be pretty adaptable birds. The ebird map shows sightings in Europe too and quite a few are in the London area. I have yet to find one in my garden!


  2. Louise / Apr 6 2013 5:23 am

    What a gorgeous bird, I’ve never seen one of these before. Parakeets can be noisy it’s true, but I love their raucousness- it’s a joyous noise in my opinion.


  3. Mary / Apr 6 2013 6:31 am

    I’m going to keep an eye out for these guys because according to the map they’re in my area. I’ve never seen one. Love the pic.


  4. laurelrainsnow / Apr 6 2013 6:36 am

    Ah, the ’60s! That explains it, then….and communes, too? lol

    Interesting facts, Leslie. Thanks for sharing. Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST


    • Leslie / Apr 6 2013 7:32 pm

      Oh right, I bet someone back in the 60s wanted the birds to be free and let them loose!


  5. Brona / Apr 6 2013 6:42 am

    Well spotted – such a pretty bird to cheer up a cold wintery looking day.


  6. Beth F / Apr 6 2013 6:53 am

    How cool. I just looked closely at the map and see that they aren’t in my area, but they are close enough for a weekend road trip. I’d love to see them in the wild.


  7. therelentlessreader / Apr 6 2013 7:23 am

    I didn’t even know this was a thing! I wonder how they manage? I see on the map that they stay mostly to the south which makes sense.


    • Leslie / Apr 7 2013 1:20 am

      They’re native to Argentina so they can tolerate the cooler weather better than parrots native to the tropics.


  8. BermudaOnion / Apr 6 2013 7:38 am

    I’d love to see one in the wild but there are none near us according to that map.


  9. readerbuzz / Apr 6 2013 7:49 am

    Beautiful. I’ve been told there is an enormous parakeet colony in a little park just east of us. I need to take a look.

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot.


  10. Debbie / Apr 6 2013 7:57 am

    VERY cool. Makes me excited about my own birding weekend coming up next month!


  11. Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf / Apr 6 2013 8:47 am

    So cool! I have never seen parakeets in the wild! Many years ago in the house I grew up in, I happened to see a beautiful parrot (or some sort of exotic bird) in a tree in our yard and I was shocked. But of course, it turned out to be our neighbor’s bird that they let fly around outside some…

    Here is my SATURDAY SNAPSHOT post!


  12. Beth Hoffman / Apr 6 2013 9:09 am

    Love this photo and post! I’ve never heard of Quaker Parrots and I envy you for seeing them. I wish they’d come to Kentucky!


    • Leslie / Apr 7 2013 1:23 am

      I’m surprised they haven’t colonized more of the southern states or at least stay south of the frost line.


  13. Arti / Apr 6 2013 9:17 am

    This is a wonderful photo! Exotic and colourful. I can’t imagine seeing parrots out in nature. But you know, I came so close with a few flocks of Bohemian Waxwings right in my neighbourhood and even my backyard one morning. They’re probably the most ‘exotic’ I can see here. But today, my snapshot is of a totally different nature.


    • Leslie / Apr 7 2013 1:25 am

      You’re probably a bit too far north for parrots to survive. Waxwings are gorgeous birds to have around though.


  14. irene / Apr 6 2013 10:31 am

    What a great find, who cares how they got here, as long as they are good guests. They are gorgeous. They do sort of want you to put on your sandals and sit in a chase lounger though. Happy nest hunting.


  15. Ali (Worducopia) / Apr 6 2013 11:37 am

    What a fun thing to see! Have you ever seen the film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill? It’s a documentary about a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco and the eccentric guy who looks out for them. I got the DVD from my library at one point and we really enjoyed it.


    • Leslie / Apr 7 2013 1:27 am

      I did see Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, wonderful movie. I got it from my library too.


  16. Melwyk / Apr 6 2013 1:25 pm

    I have never even heard of feral parakeets! What a great photo — how polite of this bird to pause for a portrait 🙂


    • Leslie / Apr 7 2013 1:28 am

      It was cold and icy that day so I was glad one of them was kind enough to stop!


  17. Erin @Quixotic Magpie / Apr 6 2013 1:41 pm

    Wow that is crazy! I had no idea! Awesome shot, great colors!


  18. Suko / Apr 6 2013 1:54 pm

    Your photo’s so lovely! I sometimes hear feral parrots as they do a “fly by”.


  19. Paulita / Apr 6 2013 2:32 pm

    I learned so much from your post and love the pic of the parakeet. Here’s Mine


  20. Susan / Apr 6 2013 4:16 pm

    Wow! What an odd thing to look out one’s window in the northern hemisphere and see a bird that I associate with a more tropical region! Cool capture!


  21. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Apr 6 2013 5:40 pm

    You must have Eagle Eyes Leslie! Great job. Lot’s around our parts according to the map.


  22. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Apr 6 2013 5:49 pm

    That’s so cool that you got to see them! I’m not sure I’d wanting them around my backyard if they’re noisy, but it would be a lot of fun to see them.


  23. Sheila (Book Journey) / Apr 7 2013 8:26 am

    Birds! We were excited to return home and see robins all over the yard yesterday. That is our first sighting this year…. it is so good to hopefully see this long annoying winter go away.


  24. lmkazmierczak / Apr 7 2013 10:23 am

    I am excited to learn these are in Chicagoland….I’ll keep an eye out when I’m biking, now…love the bike trails♥ Happy Sunday…my SS:


  25. Jennifer Ryder / Apr 9 2013 9:41 pm

    We used to live in Warwick, Rhode Island, and there was a large colony of them there. Every time we drove by them we were amazed at how noisy they were. Their nests – more like condos – were huge. Sometimes we’d see them in our neighborhood but thankfully they didn’t stay. Although they were pretty to look at I wouldn’t want to live right next to them because of all the noise they make.


  26. Diane Campbell / Mar 22 2014 11:48 am

    Amazing- I just saw about 30 in my back yard in CT. Nobody better mess with these beauties.


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