Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)

Look high into the trees near the entrance to the Zoo. You never know; you just might spot my large nest!

Monk Parakeets are extremely intelligent, highly adaptable and social birds, forming flocks of up to 50 birds. Also known as Quaker Parakeet, or Quaker Parrot, it is not known exactly how they formed wild colonies in the United States. It is assumed that some birds escaped while being imported as pets, or were released by their owners. As a pet, this bird is capable of forming an extensive vocabulary.

They are not frightened by humans and are often found taking up residence near them. They adapt well in most environments, including cold weather locations, and often rely on the hospitality of human’s bird feeders for meals during the cold, snowy months.

Brooklyn and Long Island are home to colonies of thousands of Monk Parakeets that have become part of their local landscape. Wild colonies are found in many U.S. states, including Connecticut.

Description: 

The Monk Parakeet is mostly bright green, having gray on its forehead, cheeks, throat and chest. It is 11-12 inches in length. It has an orange beak and long, tapered tail. Feathers on the throat and abdomen are edged in a lighter shade of gray, creating a scalloped look. Feathers below the abdomen are olive green, and light green on the lower abdomen. Flight feathers are blue and the tail is green with some blue. Males and females do not differ in appearance.

Habitat: 

Monk Parakeets can be found in forested and semi-forested areas, preferring open grasslands and scrub forests. They can also be found in city parks, farms, orchards and residential areas outside the big cities or towns. In South America they build their nests into the side of cliffs. Wild escaped birds like to build their communal residences on manmade structures, such as electrical poles that produce heat, which can cause power outages or can be a fire hazard.

Range: 

The Monk Parakeet is native to the tropical areas of South America. Wild birds have also established breeding colonies in Europe, the Caribbean as well as many U.S. states.

Diet: 

Herbivorous. Seeds, leaves, weeds, nuts, fruits, berries and flowers. They also frequent agricultural crops for a quick meal.

Life Span: 

 Around 20-30 years in the wild; 20 years under human care.

Family Life: 

Monk Parakeets breed from late August to November. They are communal birds. Each breeding pair builds a nest comprised of sticks, twigs and branches. As the flock grows, a new nest is built off the original nest, creating a massive residence of multi-chambered residences that will house each nesting pair. These architectural masterpieces can be several feet wide and several feet tall. 

Each female lays four to eight eggs in a clutch that she incubates for about 25 days. The chicks will remain in the nest for about 6 weeks and disperse when a year old.

Status: 

Least concern.