Monk Parakeet Swept to Daphne, AL by a Storm ?

A friend of mine sent me an email asking that I identify a bird for her.  She said it just appeared in the neighborhood this morning and was pecking at a neighbor’s front window.  The neighbor let the bird in and, thinking it’s someone’s pet, sent out a note that she had it.  The bird is in Lake Forest/Daphne, AL.found pet bird

It’s a Monk Parakeet.  They live in South America, Northeast and Midwest Texas, and South Florida.  Our recent weather which consisted of a storm from Texas heading eastward,  could have caught this bird off guard.  The storm passed through lower Alabama early this morning around 5am with strong winds and heavy rain.  The bird showed up after the storm.

Birders often wait until a front goes through during spring and fall migration for the chance to spot a bird that normally doesn’t fly in their area.  I get bird reports from one Audubon Society along the coast and love reading the list of what’s been seen after a front passes through and how the birders all flocked to certain areas where a particular bird was spotted.  They’ll even drive across the state or to another state to see the bird.

Well, I gave my friend the phone number to some Audubon people here in Baldwin County.  I suggested that unless the bird is exhausted, it might be injured and should be looked at; perhaps banded and released.  Anyway, I hope it finds its way.

Edited October 25, 2009, 3:50pm: Now for “the rest of the story”…turns out this Monk is named Sebastian and lives in a cage 1/4 west of where it was found.  The owner is happy to have it back.  How it got out I don’t know.  I was really hoping it was a bird that had gotten here via storm.  It’s just makes for a cool story.  I’m not a fan of caged birds.  I had a canary named Puffy when I was 5 and couldn’t stand the thing.  I enjoy the wild birds.

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Election Day 2008, Vote for your Florida State Bird

Today is election day.  This great state of Florida is a battleground for the Presidential pick.  It’s also a state where students in grades 4-8 can vote on their pick for a new state bird. 

Florida’s state bird is currently the mockingbird.  mockingbirdFour other states have the mockingbird as their state bird.  They are Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Arkansas.  We have a ton of mockingbirds around here.  We also have wrens, cardinals, vireos, crows, ospreys, eagles, herons, egrets, cormorants and woodpeckers that come around daily, but the mockingbird is a more common presence.

Anyway, Florida Fish and Wildlife has put together a short list of birds that they feel better represent our state: icnsnowy_egret-102snowy egret,

 great_egret_11_chipgreat egret,

brown-pelican1brown pelican,

 black-skimmersblack skimmer and

 ospreyosprey.  The criteria used to pick these birds include having a distribution around the state, are easily visible and identifiable, are both native to Florida and breed here, are not listed as threatened or endangered and have a striking and beautiful appearance.   

If you are a student or have a student in grades 4 through 8, please go to www.vote4bird.org today only between 7am and 7pm.  The bird that is chosen today with the most votes will not, however, automatically become the new state bird.  This will have to be handled through the legislative branch of our state government.  But, your vote will give Florida Fish and Wildlife the bird to present, through a Bill, to the legislature.  The website, www.Vote4bird.org, will, as I understand, post information after the election so you can follow the process.  You can get more involved by writing to your representatives. 

Birds are such an important part of our lives.  They are not only a joy to see, study, identify and listen to, but they are also an indicator of the health of our environment.  I have had more fun with birding as a hobby than with other hobbies.  If you spend time outdoors, keep a camera and binoculars with you.  Listen for bird calls and songs, check out some library books on birds in your area or purchase them so you can make notes in them.  I like writing in one book the date I spotted a new bird or was able to recognize a particular bird by identifying its call rather than actually seeing it.  Yes, I’m middle-aged and have seen a ton of birds in my life, but I also move from state to state often so having a new list and state bird book each time is kind of cool.  There are plenty of websites on birding.  My favorite is the Cornell University site, www.birds.cornell.edu.  The Audubon Society has chapters in most cities and towns.  Nature centers and both state and national parks have bird walks. 

I’m glad that Florida is doing this and I hope the other states find a more appropriate bird to represent their states as well.  The mockingbird, although a really cool bird for many reasons which I may blog about in a day or two, is quite common and I believe a “State Bird” should be one that is unique to that state.  When I lived in Mississippi, a wonderful friend of mine and I had this same conversation of changing the state bird.  Mississippi has unique birds as does Florida.  We had discussed how cool it would be if the Mississippi Kite became the Mississippi state bird.  Maybe I’ll put a bug in someones ear up there to look into the process. 

But, for now, go ahead and have the kids vote today for a new Florida state bird.  Mine will vote as soon as I’m off my blog. 

Happy voting…happy birding!