About four this afternoon, our kittens started acting strangely. They often curl up on our back windowsill, watching backyard birds, then falling asleep:
But today Raff and Pumpkin got so excited they tried to climb through the window glass. This is what they saw:
There were two Monk Parakeets sitting on wires above our backyard. Raff and Pumpkin’s life goal is to eat Aaron’s six pet parakeets — and here were foot-long versions of their favorite birds! Monk Parakeets live wild around Chicago, descendants of pet-store escapees that first took hold on Chicago’s South Side. To read more about them, go here or here.
Monk Parakeets are special to our family because they helped generate our birding interest — go here to read about the “spark” they provided. The first time Monk Parakeets came to our backyard feeder was during Aaron’s bird-themed eighth birthday party. It was his best present that year! We’ve seen them most months since then, but today’s Monk Parakeets were the first ones in our yard this year (not counting some flyovers earlier this month).
The other new arrival had us worried. Our yard’s first Red-winged Blackbirds usually arrive when Grackles do, but Grackles returned two weeks ago without them. We worried because the only nesting sites we offer Red-wings are scraggly strips of cattails near the Eisenhower Expressway. Each year our neighborhood attracts a pair or two of Red-wings, but we worry they may find somewhere better to nest. Finally, our first male finally arrived today:
Our Red-winged male shows more mottled black and smaller red-and-yellow patches than males that breed at Columbus Park. Maybe he’s not got the macho of a big-marsh blackbird, so he gets stuck with just a drainage ditch. At least we give him all the sunflower seeds he can eat.
We hope his mate shows up soon, so they’ll bring fledglings to our feeder this summer.
Today we counted 16 species of birds from our backyard. Go here for a summary of bird counts for our yard and block.