Eagle-eyed photographer and birdwatcher, Ray Wright, refocused his attention, and his lens recently to catch a rare sighting of a lone monk parakeet right here in Nyack. Probably an escapee from a happy home, monk parakeets have been known to be one of those “baby alligator” type pets that people release into the wild because of their raucous vocalization. As popular myth has it, these pretty pets, originally from South America, may have been accidentally released from a broken crate some 45 years ago at JFK airport, and instead of dying off, happily made their home in areas surrounding the five boroughs. In all probability, owner release is the more likely cause of the population, as they are well established in at least 15 states.
The birds are quite large, measuring about twelve inches from beak to tail, and start squawking before their eyes are even open. They live in nests made of twigs as big around as a finger, and build massive structures that can house hundreds of parrots—more like a condominium than a nest, each pair having its own entrance and a communal nesting area. The structures, when finished, can weigh hundreds of pounds and reach enormous proportions. Adult birds clip branches from trees when nesting and strip bark to eat. They also empty birdfeeders and take fruit from trees, all the while making loud screaming noises from dawn to dusk.
Having one lone monk parakeet in Nyack may be a blessing. If another one, or perhaps a pair, were released there might be something to worry about.
For the moment keep your eyes to the trees and hope for a viewing of this pretty bird. Watch for the tropical green color, the blue wing tips, pale grey breast and the orange bill.
Ray Wright, will give a presentation entitled “The Return of the Eagles to Rockland County” for the John Scott Armchair walking tour. The program will be presented first at the Nyack Library, 59 S. Broadway, at 7p on Wed. Nov. 19 and repeated Thurs., Nov. 20, at 2p at the Valley Cottage Library on Route 303.
Photo of sole parakeet by Ray Wright
Photo of two parakeets near the West Side Highway by Elijah Reichlin-Melnick.
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