Green With Envy: Wildlife Wednesday, September 2020

On lucky days my garden is graced by some of Austin’s resident, non-native, Monk Parakeets.  Usually it’s a small group of two or three gregarious greens flying over and cawing loudly to let everyone know they’re in the neighborhood.  Occasionally, one or two of these gorgeous birds will pop in, perch in my trees, and purloin some seeds.  The munching Monks have generally favored the black-oiled sunflower feeder, but recently, this one decided that safflower seeds were just the thing it craved.

That said, the green-with-envy bird could only look, smack its formidable beak in anticipation, and wait patiently above the popular bird seed feeder, because the House Finches, Haemorhous mexicanus, are currently the dominate guests at the safflower food tube. 

Safflower seeds are all the rage, it seems.

While the Monk Parakeet waited, two hatch-year females took their time enjoying the seeds, no doubt frustrating the colorful giant.  Most days, each of the four safflower feeding stations are filled with finches and there was a bumper crop of fledglings this year, so there’s currently lots of finch action in my garden, in the trees and on the feeders.  I enjoy observing the House Finches:  they’re attractive, chatty birds with pretty songs and calls and they chirp with charm as they chop their seeds.   The females are striped in brown and cream, as are the males, who also blush red on their breasts, heads, and under wings.

Eventually, the petite finches became safflower-sated and the parakeet got the feeder to itself.  Austin’s Monk Parakeets are descendants of pets released over the past 50 years or so.  The Monks have adapted well here, as they have in other North American cities.  Monk Parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus, are native to South America and live communally, building large nests atop utility poles and tall trees.  As far as I’m aware, the Monks haven’t negatively impacted the environment or displaced any native birds.  It’s not unusual to see Monks hanging out with glossy, gleaming black-to-brown Great-tailed and Common Grackles, especially in open areas.  The birds all congenially march along, pack-like, gleaning seeds or insects from the ground before taking flight to trees, bright green wings in contrast and complement to the black iridescent ones. 

On some rare occasions, fires have erupted in and on the large Monk stick nests built at the top of electric poles, which obviously isn’t good either for the birds or the people and other critters who live below.  In the interest of safety, Austin’s fire department pull down nests built in questionable places which is a bummer for the Monk Parakeets, but better for all concerned.

My visiting Monk Parakeet was almost, but not quite, too big for the feeder.  It maneuvered around the feeder somewhat awkwardly, taking seeds successfully.

And while the green machine ate, look who had to rustle up some self-restraint and wait her turn. 

Who’s green–or brown and white–with envy now?

I hope your garden has some wild goings on and happy wildlife gardening!  Also, pop over to Flutter and Hum for garden vignettes;  there’s always a story there to enjoy.

18 thoughts on “Green With Envy: Wildlife Wednesday, September 2020

    • I just noticed I messed up the date: I meant to type 1939, but I see now that the movie was released in 1938. The film is considered a classic, but of course much that’s in it is stereotyped, simplified, and not true to history. I’ve never understood why Hollywood can’t stick to the truth and still tell a good story.

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      • Funny because I read the day as ’39–that’s weird. I do agree with you though and with a movie about true events or a biography, I’m always annoyed when there’s a change that shouldn’t have been.

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    • Judy, I do keep it near my windows and back door facing the back garden. What I’m really bad about is when I go outdoors, not bringing it with me. I can’t count the number of amazing shots I could have gotten, if I just brought the camera. And, I never seem to learn…:)

      Parakeets keep to their own agenda. I may not see one in my garden until next year, or maybe, one will stop by tomorrow. They’re not regulars, to be sure.

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  1. How cool to have actual parakeets flying around – even if not indigenous. (Far less troublesome than the Boa constrictors in Florida, might I add, as far as naturalized pets go…. sheesh!) Fabulous photos as always, Tina!

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    • Thanks, Anna! It is fun seeing these birds! They’re so pretty, but they sure are loud! They haven’t been a problem here, even the Travis County Audubon folks (I’m a member, not that active) are cool with them. In fact, the Audubon folks get their knickers in a knot when the fire department pulls down nests, though I’ve seen pics of the fires that start at the top of utility lines and transformers and I’m going to side with the fire folks on that one.

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  2. Love the Monk parakeets but have only seen one flock of around 10 or more that perched on utility wires that stretched across my backyard. That was maybe 7-9 years ago. I think they must have been traveling through. I am unaware if they have ever nested in my town which is about 100 miles north approximately, from Austin. They are pretty birds and I think you are fortunate to have then enjoy your feeders when ever they decide to show up for a visit.

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  3. Naturalized parrots have been something of a bother in some neighborhoods of Los Angeles since they were released from aviaries before they burned in the Bel Air Fire in 1961. They can be so loud, and make such a mess of the carob pods. Somehow, the same species naturalized near San Jose! I would not have guessed that they would be happy in that climate.

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      • Carob trees make so many pods, which alone become a mess when they fall. Parrots consume much of the mess, but seem to make it worse by grinding it to bits that are difficult to rake. (Just coincidentally, carob was featured in my blog this morning.)

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  4. For years, we’ve had huge monk parakeet nests atop the large metal transmission lines along Highway 146 that goes through Kemah and Seabrook. From time to time the power company people take down the nests, but they always have waited until the babies have fledged. Now, with a huge highway and bridge expansion project in progress, the birds seem to have disappeared. I suspect that all the noise and equipment made them decide to find another neighborhood. They will appear in palm trees from time to time, and you’re right that there’s no question when they’re around. You can hear them calling as they fly from quite a distance away!

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    • Yes, I think our fire department also pulls down the fire-hazard nests after the babies are gone, though I think that was because the Audubon group raised a stink about one or two time when the chicks were still nesting. I had an emergency with my cat late yesterday and had to take him to a vet ER in South Austin. As I waited (3 hours!) in the parking lot, I heard lots of parakeet cawing. I never saw them, but they made their presence known.

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      • He is, but he had a anal sac abscess and yes, it’s as gross as it sounds. We don’t know how it happened, but apparently, it’s a thing that can happen. He’s now on an antibiotic and pain medicine and is pretty loopy once the meds kick in.

        I noticed late yesterday afternoon that he was licking his backside and the abscess had burst. He showed no symptoms before that, at least none that we picked up on. He’s old (15) and actually has something-or-other cardiomyopathy–congestive heart failure. He was diagnosed 2 years ago, developed an irregular heart beat almost a year ago and is still pretty active–plays, caught a rat about two weeks ago, and continues to be his charming, affectionate self all the time. He should be fine; we’ll need to warm-compress the wound for a couple of days. He’s a good patient, but not quite sure how he’s going to handle that…

        He’s most upset about having to wear the Cone of Shame, but he’ll just have to get over that! Thanks for asking about my Nuri the Wonderful!

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