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Home » SCIENCE AND NATURE » CONNECTICUT » The New Bird on the Block
A Monk Parakeet
The New Bird on the Block

By Michael F. Bisceglia, Jr. | November 29, 2010

When thinking of the birds of New England, a few immediately (or maybe a few seconds after “immediately”) cross your mind.

A Blue Jay

The turkey... Pilgrims... first Thanksgiving True, right? The blue jay... year round resident... loves the bird feeder in the back yard.   Sure.   The pigeon... painter of statues.   I’m sure everyone has a list.   There is a relative newcomer to the New England skies that is vying for attention.   Drum roll please... the monk parakeet.   Okay, stop with the drums.

Here’s the myth: in the late 1800’s a merchant schooner was bound for Boston from ports in South America.   The captain of the vessel had two monks he was bringing back to the wife he hadn’t seen in two years.   A terrible winter storm smashed the ship against the rocks near Bridgeport, Connecticut.   All aboard were lost, save the two parrots.   The numbers of their offspring continue to flourish.

Yes, that was the myth, the real story is far less romantic.   In the 1960’s the monk parakeet took up residence in the state.   No one seems to know if one flew out a kitchen window; escaped from a pet shop, or simply followed the coast from South America.

Monk Parakeet Nests

So far, our new feathered friend doesn’t seem to be doing anything disruptive to the environment.   Apparently, it is fond of the insurance business and has chosen to take up residence in areas around Hartford.

The birds are really enjoying themselves.   The monks have built their huge stick monasteries (sorry, couldn’t resist) in trees and telephone poles in some numbers.   These mound-shaped structures can be anywhere from four to six feet wide.   The birds are a messy housekeeper, but real party animals having loud raucous get-togethers long into the night.   Monks fly, but seldom for long distances.   My guess is they travel only as far as the next party.

Their snack foods seem to be insects and insect larvae.   It is not clear if they are connoisseurs of fine wine, although there is a Gray Monk wine bottled in California.

So far, the monk parakeets are a welcome addition to the New England bird scene.   There is no evidence yet as to whether the bird have learned to speak with a distinctive accent or if they have become a full-fledged members of Red Sox Nation.

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