myiopsitta (from myia, a fly, and psitta, a parrot) monachus (a monk)
Saturday, March 31, 2001 — 12:15 pm
Elmhurst, Illinois — Parker Street
Last December, there was a message on IBET about this colony of Monk Parakeets. I printed it off and waited for an opportunity. Today I was looking for something to do with Beth. I determined on a multi-purpose trip. We visited a used bookstore in Palatine, toured the new library in Des Plaines and searched for the parakeets.
It wasn’t much of a search. I drove to the spot, a power-line clearing through a middle-class neighborhood, and stopped the car. We saw a hugh stick nest in a nearby electrical tower. It was about the size of a refrigerator. Within a minute, we saw a parakeet fly to the nest. I got out of the car and saw three more fly by at eye-level about 30 yards off to the right, across a field. Then a strange, harsh cry penetrated my consciousness. I turned around and saw six more Monks in a small tree 30 feet away. They were systematically breaking off small branches and twigs. Whenever one would break off a branch, it would fly with it to the tower. The twigs were slender, but some were as long as the birds.
Some birds flew to a second tower where I saw four or five smaller branch nests, each about the size of a bushel basket. There was also a smaller bundle in the original tower. Parakeets were flying everywhere around the area. Some headed out over a row of trees on the other side of the clearning. Their calls were constantly ringing around the neighborhood.
Beth and I spent about 10 minutes watching them, then headed for home, stopping at Eistein Brothers for bagel dogs for lunch.