Thursday, May 29, 2008

Monk Parakeets, Beautiful, Yet Troubled

When I first saw these birds over a decade a ago I thought that perhaps someones pet parakeets had flown away. Vivid green and beautiful everyone in town soon started asking lots of questions about these exotic birds. They rarely flew alone always in flocks, and unlike tropical birds, managed to survive the winters here in Connecticut.

The origin of these birds was clearly by way of introduction and then possibly some cross breeding, I have heard many stories about how they got here but never truly got a consistent story. The only thing that always rings the same is that the were introduced into our area by someones own actions.

Not everyone is a fan of Monk Parakeets, especially United Illuminating who regards them as an infestation. UI has claimed that they build nests on utility poles (see photo above) taking advantage of the warmth put forth by the transformers. The nests that are constructed add additional insulation and restrict ventilation required by UI equipment to not overheat, explode, malfunction or worse cause a blackout.

Friends of Animals has taken up a legal battle to protect these birds from extermination. They have been challenging Woodson and UI for their deliberate and inhumane extermination of them. The situation has culminated into several protests and lawsuits urging for a compromise that protects the lives and habitat of these beautiful birds.

The news today in the CT Post was the final showdown, and the birds lost their case as the court sided with United Illuminating. However, there is still hope because FOA is actively involved in discussions that will hopefully allow for the safe removal of the nests without injury to the birds.

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