Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Parakeets Nesting in North Carolina?

Several times a year I may get photographs of a really odd bird at a feeder. Typically they are very ornately plumaged; such that they catch the eye of even the most casual of feeder watchers. Almost always the unknown diner turns out to be an exotic, non-native species that has almost certainly escaped from captivity. I have encountered some of these exotics in the field just a few times, and it always causes any birder to do a double-take upon first glance. 

Since wild birds are widely sold kept as part of the pet trade, the escape of some individuals is inevitable. Often they are tropical species that do not do well in temperate regions for very long. But in areas like Florida and southern California some species are hardy enough to establish themselves for at least a short period of time and actually reproduce and form small colonies.  The birds range from waterfowl to parrots to finches to gamebirds. Recently I got a report of a ring-necked pheasant from this area.

Some species are hardy enough to attempt a nesting in more temperate regions than Florida or California. Currently there is a pair of monk parakeets nesting in Newland, North Carolina, well to our west. Monk parakeets are one of the most frequently encountered exotics anywhere in the United States. Years ago I saw a nest in a power transformer near the site of the current Ray’s Splash Planet. There is also a pair that has nested just west of Wilmington, North Carolina for the last few years.

Such occurrences are interesting for their novelty but the chances are almost nil that monk parakeets will become established fauna in the North Carolina landscape. But the North Carolina Bird Records committee recently created a “Not Established” list where such sightings and records can be cataloged
and thus become part of the record in case the monk parakeet population explodes and they become an established species. I suspect that will never happen, and if it does it will take decades. So, birders are enjoying the parakeets in North Carolina but are not counting them on their official state or life lists for now.

Monk Parakeets by Caroline Bradford


Sondra said...

There are large flocks of Monk Parrots living and nesting in Brooklyn, and Queens NY, they build the large stick nests around power transformers and it keeps them warm!