Welcome, Oak Parkers and River Foresters!
The following post is about Monk Parakeet nests found in neighboring towns. If you want to read about a time when Monk Parakeets visited our backyard in south Oak Park, then check out this post: https://neighborhoodnature.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/backyard-parakeets-and-more/
Many of our other Neighborhood Nature blog posts are about nature in Oak Park and nearby Columbus Park (just east of Austin).
Thanks for stopping by!
Eric, Ethan, and Aaron Gyllenhaal & Gail Fisher (our wife/Mom)
(This updated added 12/15/2010.)
Monk Parakeets have a special place in our family’s hearts. Although we usually aren’t big fans of non-native birds (like Starlings, House Sparrows, and Pigeons), we kind of make an exception for Monk Parakeets. That’s because these birds jump started our family’s interest in birding when Aaron saw his first Monk Parakeet nest on the south side of Chicago. Plus Monk Parakeets are really cute, as we are reminded when we welcome them to our backyard feeders several times a year. (To read more about Monk Parakeets, go here or here.)
So, this morning we were excited to learn about a new citizen science project that lets ordinary folks help scientists by reporting Monk Parakeet nests. If the scientists get enough citizen reports, they can be certain they have included all the Chicago-area nests in their research. It’s called the Chicago Parakeet Project, and the project’s home page is here. You can also read a press release here and a news article about the Chicago Parakeet Project here.
Once you’ve found a nest in the Chicago area, entering data is really simple. You just complete a Survey Monkey form that tells the scientists where the nest is located, what kind of tree or structure the nest was built on, and how many parakeets you saw around the nest, and then you tell them a bit about yourself. It’s as simple as that! At this point you can’t see your nest data plotted on a map, but the project scientists hope to include those sorts of features in the future.
So, we couldn’t wait — we filled out forms for two nests immediately, and then went back to enter some more data when a friend gave us some news about the second nest.
The first nest is in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. It was built on a utility pole in an alley, and it looks like this:
We first learned about this nest from a Chicago Police officer we met in Columbus Park. He had seen birds in the nest several times, but we did not see any Monk Parakeets while we were there.
The second nest was in Berwyn, Illinois. We had known about it for years, and when I drove past the nest last Friday there was a Monk Parakeet on a nearby wire. The second nest was built in a spruce tree in a residential neighborhood:
Right after we reported this nest, we heard from a friend who told us that the parakeet colony that built this nest had relocated to a tall tower near North Riverside Mall, about a half mile away. Sure enough, we checked it out, and this is what we found:
I saw several Monk Parakeets at this nest, and I heard even more while I was parking near a mall entrance. If you want to see this nest, go to the far south side of the North Riverside Mall parking lot, near the railroad tracks. Be sure to take binoculars or, better yet, a telescope!