Monk Parakeet


Monk Parakeets:

Monk parakeets, sometimes known as Quaker parrots, are medium-sized birds in the parrot family. They originate from South America but have become established in urban areas around the world, most likely due to escape or release from pet owners. In Chicago, they were first observed in the Hyde Park neighborhood in the 1960s and have subsequently spread to surrounding areas.

Unique among parrots, monk parakeets build stick nests in trees or on manmade structures. These nests can become quite large and may house many pairs of birds (see picture above on right). Monk parakeets are also unique because they use their nests year round for roosting as well as for breeding in the spring and summer. Their nests are distinctive when they get very large (~6 feet long) and are nearly impossible to confuse with anything else. However, smaller nests (~1 foot wide) might be confused with a squirrel's nest. The biggest difference between a squirrel nest and a parakeet nest is that parakeet nests are made only of sticks without any leaves or additional materials, which are frequently observed as part of squirrel nests. A dead giveaway would be if there are several noisy, green birds near the nest.

The Project:

Researchers from three different universities have teamed up to map the nest locations of monk parakeets in the greater Chicago area. Emily Minor, at University of Illinois at Chicago, Stephen Pruett-Jones, at University of Chicago, and Christopher Appelt, at St. Xavier University, have created the first map from this project. The goal is to study the patterns of monk parakeet distribution and range expansion throughout the region.

This map shows the locations of known nesting sites within the last five years; it is the result of work of the researchers and the information provided by average citizens. Symbols differentiate between nests in trees and nests in built substrates.  We are grateful to Chicago-area residents for sharing their monk parakeet observations with us.


How You Can Help:

If you are aware of a monk parakeet nest in the Chicago region, you can provide us information about the nest by participating in this survey.

St Xavier
University of Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago