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Monk Parakeet

Myiopsitta monachus ORDER: PSITTACIFORMES FAMILY: PSITTACIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

It may come as a surprise to see noisy, green-and-gray parrots racing through cities in the U.S. But Monk Parakeets, native to South America but long popular in the pet trade, established wild populations here in the 1960s. They are the only parrots to nest communally; dozens live together year-round in large, multifamily stick nests built in trees and on power poles. These large group nests may be one aid to surviving the cold winters in adopted cities as far north as Chicago and New York.

Keys to identification Help

Dovelike
Dovelike
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    A fairly small parrot with a long, pointed tail and fairly narrow, pointed wings. Like other parrots, they have large heads and large, hooked bills.

  • Color Pattern

    Monk Parakeets are green with a gray face and breast. The bill is pale pink. In flight, the primary and outer secondary flight feathers are blue.

  • Behavior

    These noisy birds are often seen and heard traveling between their nests and feeding sites. Adults forage for seeds, nuts, fruits, and greens. Look for them in small flocks in trees (where they can be hard to pick out against the green leaves). They sometimes also feed on the ground.

  • Habitat

    In their native South America, Monk Parakeets live in dry, open habitats. In the U.S. they live in urban and suburban settings, where they feed on ornamental fruit trees and often nest on human structures such as power transformers. They are established in many U.S. cities including San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Providence, Miami, and St. Petersburg.

Range Map Help

Monk Parakeet Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  •  

    Monk Parakeet

     
    • Stocky green parrot with pale gray face and underparts
    • Gregarious; often gathering in large, noisy flocks
    • Stout, hooked bill
    • Thick, hooked bill
    • © Andy K. Jordan, Houston, Texas, January 2012
  • Pair at nest

    Monk Parakeet

    Pair at nest
    • Medium-sized, bright-green parrot
    • Pale-gray on face and breast
    • Breeds colonially in massive stick nests with multiple entrances
    • Blue flight feathers on wings
    • © Laura Erickson, Chicago, Illinois, June 2006
  • Pair feeding on berries

    Monk Parakeet

    Pair feeding on berries
    • Gregarious flocks now seen in several major urban areas in the U.S.
    • Bright green above, pale-gray below and on face
    • Long, tapered tail
    • Uses thick, hooked bill to feed on seeds, nuts, and berries
    • © Donna Lynn, Whitestone, Queens, New York, November 2011
  •  

    Monk Parakeet

     
    • Stocky green parrot
    • Pale white/grey on face and breast
    • Long, tapered tail
    • Blue flight feathers usually visible on folded wings
    • © Stein Arne Jensen, Spain, February 2014

Similar Species

Numerous other parrot species may be seen in North American cities, including recent escapes as well as semi-established populations. Monk Parakeets are recognizable by their gray head and breast and the lack of other prominent patches of color on the head.

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