Wild Monk Parrots!

Hey there, MAPHers,

I suspect that many of you are in various stages of planning, packing, or settling in to your places in Chicago.  In the midst of the stressful and exhausting process of moving, here’s a fun fact to get you excited about your new home: for the past 22 years, a fairly stable population of feral monk parrots (also known as quaker parrots) has thrived in Hyde Park.  Apparently, a number of these birds were shipped to the Chicago area from their native Argentina in the ’60s and ’70s to be sold as pets.  By the late ’70s, small groups of the escaped parrots could be seen nesting in local parks and on telephone poles.  Populations of wild monk parrots live in other regions of the U.S., but Hyde Park monk parrots are notable for their ability to weather the harsh Chicago winters.  The birds do not migrate, but instead, hunker down in their nests which serve as permanent dwellings over the course of the birds’ lives.  Those who study the birds (including University of Chicago Professor Stephen Pruett-Jones) have suggested that their survival through the winter months is due in large part to backyard bird feeders–in other words, the kindness of strangers.  I learned all of this (and more fascinating monk parrot info–including the fact that monk parrots have 11 distinguishable vocalizations here.

I have to say, I had heard about these adept creatures before my move to Hyde Park, but as I have recently discovered, it is a whole different experience to stumble upon them “in the wild”.  I came upon a rather large group of them yesterday while walking Sally, our MAPHscot (see earlier post!) at Florence Stout Park (55th and Greenwood).  It was an overwhelming and altogether unique experience.  This particular group of monks was obviously stirred up by the presence of the dog–they were incredibly vocal and active, flying ceaselessly from tree to tree and announcing our presence to the whole group.  I hope that all of you will be pleasantly surprised by such an encounter at some point during the year.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these guys as you trip around Hyde Park.  And remember, if these guys can survive the winter, then so can we, gosh darnit!

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