I was driving home from a trip to the grocery store on the “mainland” and was about to cross over the north bridge to Siesta. To my delight, perched along the electric wires to my left, were about 100 of these parakeets. They were so beautiful. I rolled down my window and listened to them screech, which is the best description I can think of to describe their song. Its intense with that many birds. The sight was beautiful.
Monk parakeets have mostly grey colored face and breast. They’re very noisy but in a beautiful sort of way that I, as a birder, finds everything beautiful. Anyway, they remind me of a exaggeration of a nagging old hag with a high pitched voice. But, like I said, in a beautiful, nature kind of way.
I first heard of them when I was letterboxing with a friend and her children. One of our stops was the grounds of St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church on Longboat Key. There’s a colony roosting there behind the church and if you’re lucky you can spot some from the board walk that runs out toward the bay. They hang out back there. Of course I didn’t see them at that time. When we all parted from the church grounds, I pulled over in a parking lot to take a phone call. Above me, on a power line, perched several monk parakeets. Lucky for me I had my camera.
The first parakeets I had ever seen here were the black hooded parakeets. They are mostly green with a black head. I hadn’t seen many since the spring. I would bike ride through the village to what was called dog beach (I don’t know the new name) with my camera to capture some amazing pictures of these birds in the trees. I guess they were nesting in the cabbage palms.
Their range, according to my National Geographic field guide, is Brazil to Argentina, same as the Monk Parakeets. They are considered exotics/escapees according to one of my birding books, “Birding Hot Spots in Sarasota and Manatee Counties” complied by the local Audubon Societies. Curiously, the Monk Parakeet is not.