I knew the Austin area had some parrots, because I’ve seen a group of them in some trees a couple years ago. But the other day, when we took a different route for our bike ride, I found out where some of them are living.
I heard some birds squawking and did not recognize the sound to be native. Up high in the lights of UT Intramural Fields, at 51st and Guadalupe, I found huge nests made from twigs and dozens of green parrots flying around them. The towering lights that surround the field are home to a very large population of these non-native birds. And it’s not just one tower of lights, it’s just about all of them! Each tower is stuffed with branches that twirl around to form a nice pockets of protection for a mating couple. I’m not sure how long they have been there, or how many started it all, but right now there are about a dozen per tower. There must be 30 towers on this field!
After I took some photos, I decided to google it and see what came up. Apparantly, I’m one of the last people to know about these birds. Well, maybe not the last. I found an article in the Mr. Smarty Pants section of the Chronicle, and it appears to be the most informative. Also, it appears these birds are actually parakeets. Monk parakeets, to be exact. Although, they are also known as Quaker Parrots. So, as it is on the web, it must be true! 🙂
“The first person in Austin to write extensively about Monk Parakeets seems to be Erik Huebner. He once wrote that Monk Parakeets were first spotted in Austin in the 1970’s.
In 1996, he noted that there were about 100 Monk Parakeets living in six nesting sites:
- Krieg Fields – (South Pleasant Valley Road by Longhorn Dam) – Largest colony – 14 nests!
- YMCA – Town Lake (Corner of West Cesar Chavez and North Lamar) – nine nests.
- Butler Fields – (Toomey Road off of South Lamar) – eight nests.
- Martin Junior High School – (Haskell Ave.) – three nests.
- Taco Bell – East Oltorf Road