Melissa and I went on a horse trail ride for her birthday today, and of course I kept an eye and ear out for birds… Before we saddled up, I heard some harsh, grating, bird calls and saw a parakeet fly overhead. Well, at first it looked like a small dove, but no dove I know makes a noise like that! Based on the calls, and the size, it was almost certainly a Monk Parakeet. Last summer a Monk Parakeet or two nested near the horse ranch, just west of the Alameda Bridge. I suppose these are the same birds, most likely pet escapees or releases.
Monk Parakeets are, of course, not native to the United States. Small escapee colonies thrive in some eastern states (New York, Connecticut, Chicago, and Florida especially) but they do not seem to be spreading.
This exotic bird brings up many hotly debated topics in birding, foremost of which is does the bird “count”? I’ll write down some thoughts on this and much more, inspired by this post on the new ABA blog.