Save the Invasive Species!

That’s not really the subject of this post, I just wanted to get your attention, because on Facebook, I see a side bar ad to donate money to save the wild Quaker parrots of Manhattan. And I started wondering if it’s a good idea to save these immigrants. In the past, I have stated that I am in favor of helping wild parrots in the United States because they are so fragile in their own country.

But Quakers, also known as monk parakeets, are of least concern in Argentina. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk_parakeet They are a very hardy and adaptive species, as shown by their survival in Europe, Asia, and New York. They are the only parrot that builds community nests. These structures are awesome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gNk0yTZZHI

In the wild, these opportunistic birds will move in to the “basement” of a Jabiru stork nest and renovate to suit their needs. And the storks don’t even charge rent! Well, maybe a little guard duty, to alert them if a predator comes around. http://zoologica.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/the-nest-building-behavior-of-the-adaptable-quaker-parakeet/

This nest building is the main reason utility companies want to eradicate the bird in New York and New Jersey. http://wildparrotsny.com/index/breedfacts.html http://wildparrotsny.com/index/awareness.html
Apparently these birds are getting a better reception in Chicago. http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-home-fit-wild-parrots-108565

In California, Quakers are illegal. I’ve heard rumors that people still have them as pets. Just like I know people who have kept illegal ferrets as pets. But I have never heard of either wild herds of ferrets or wild flocks of Quakers in this state. We have cherry headed conures. And a variety of others. The California Parrot Project makes an interesting point that many species have been introduced and are now considered part of the natural world here. Eucalyptus trees, mustard plant, palm trees, all got here with people.
http://www.californiaparrotproject.org/
http://www.havasiwf.org/the-concrete-jungle-uncovering-the-mystery-of-wild-parrots-in-southern-california/

Here is a helpful video for identifying wild parrots in California. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnyHT6Sqq2E And the most famous are the parrots of Telegraph Hill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtld3KOpuY Cherry headed conures are Near Threatened in their home range, so keeping the colony flock in California safe and healthy makes perfect sense. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-masked_parakeet

California has been involved in bird conservation for many decades, so this new version shouldn’t be difficult to fit into our culture. Condors are the symbol of successful conservation in our minds. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/t_e_spp/bird.html Maybe they have been a little too successful? http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/13/intruder-endangered-bird-species-damages-california-community-homes/

Just don’t bring up the thick billed parrot project. We didn’t really run that one, anyway. http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/thick-billed-parrot (click the Conservation tab) Here’s more on the effort to release captive raised birds into the wild: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/05/30/science/effort-to-reintroduce-thick-billed-parrots-in-arizona-is-dropped.html And I have heard that the main reason so many birds were killed by predators within 48 hours of release was due to their having their wings clipped while in captivity. The project people thought it would work to use a method of wing repair called imping. http://www.sanctuaryfederation.org/gfas/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Imping-Repairing-a-Birds-Damaged-or-Clipped-Wings-Greg-Glendell.pdf They found out the hard way that repaired wings were not good when a parrot is fighting for its life.

My conclusion, I think, is that we should do all we can to save threatened and endangered species, but not really worry about those that are thriving in many places. I’ll be back on Thursday.

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