Brooklyn College
of the City University of New York

The Adaptable Monk Parakeets
Created by Amy Simeone, Gail  McGlynn and Janet Lee members of the
Science and Environmental Education Masters Program

Welcome! We are in the Environmental Education Science Masters Program. It is our hope, through this web site to examine and present to you our research on monk parakeets. Our goal will be to discover whether environmental factors have any affect on their eating patterns which may contribute to a change in physical appearance of the parakeets. The origin of the Monk Parakeets is in South America. Their predominant climatic environment appears to be tropical. Since 1967 the Monk Parakeets have sustained and adapted to many different environmental factors.   We are studying the adaptation and the environmental factors of the Monk Parakeets. This study, encompasses the eating patterns of the Monk Parakeets in various locations in Brooklyn, New York. We chose two locations in Brooklyn. The first location is Marine Park and the second is on our campus at Brooklyn College.


We currently are studying monk parakeets also known as Myiopsitta monachus, in Marine Park, and the Midwood section of Brooklyn, both residential areas in New York.  The Monk Parakeet were first reported in the "wild" in 1967.   In 1967, arriving at Kennedy airport a large number of monk parakeets escaped from a cracked crate. These parakeets have migrated and appear to be established in various parts of New York.  They have been spotted in Brooklyn and seem to have adapted well.

During our investigation we have noticed many interesting aspects of the Monk Parakeets. The Monk Parakeets are the only species of parrot family that does not nest in a concave cavity. Instead these birds choose positions that are elevated and can support their stick structure. This type of structure incorporates many different designs. One design of nesting can hold a single structured nest with many subdivisions. These subdivisions can hold as many as twelve parrots. The larger nest appears dome-shaped with interlocking twigs to support their population.  In addition, they seem to construct, maintain and use these structures year round. Sometimes they abandon  their nests for various reasons and move to locations more suited to their specific needs.

From our research we have noticed that their food consumption is related to the supply of the neighboring environment. In our study we have noticed that they forage on dandelion leaves and  grass. They also consume acorns in abundance. We have also viewed them eating crabapples, berries and sunflowers.

Furthermore, through our literature research we have encountered reports that during  the  post -partum period of the female birds, the male does the foraging, while regularly visiting their nest. His essential role is to maintain safety and food supply while the female is nesting their young.

Weekly Observations:

On September  21, 1999, we counted approximately 17 monk parakeets foraging on the grass at Brooklyn College Campus. These birds were extremely active flying from different trees in a frenzy. They were making loud squawks and appear to be communicating. The main food source that we viewed was grass. We saw many acorns on the ground but did not see any evidence of consumption.

On September 26, 1999, ( 5:00 - 5:15 P.M.) we viewed two birds on East 85 and Avenue L in Canarsie eating sunflower seeds. They were also eating grass and dandelions. We did not notice any signs of nesting areas.

On September 27, 1999, (4:15 - 4:40 P.M.) we viewed two birds on East 85 Street and Avenue L on the same corner property eating grass. We did not notice any nest. We then proceeded to cover a radius of 4 square blocks ( Avenue L. K. M. N. and East 84. 85. 86. 87 Streets) to try to locate some nests we did not notice any at these locations.

On September 28, 1999, ( 4:00 - 5:00 P.M. ) we traveled along Seaview Park and covered the radius of the park. We then went inside and looked around the field, but to no avail, we did not find any nests.

On October 7, 1999 (3:20 - 3:25 P.M. ) we heard birds on East 94 Street and Avenue M and N. We saw one bird flying in the direction of Seaview Park but did not find any nests.

On October 12, 1999 (7:00 - 8:30 P.M. ) we observed at the Brooklyn College Campus athletic field that there was little activity. We saw many acorns on the ground. We heard birds and noticed nest on the lights approximately 100 feet high. It appeared that there were three birds on one side and three on the other side.  We viewed activity near the library, approximately four birds entering the nest and one leaving. We also observed nesting material being brought inside the nest. We did not see any consumption of food.

On October 17, 1999 (10:00 - 11:00 A.M. ) We saw no activity in the morning. We suspect that they are very lazy birds and do not become active until around 12:00 to 2:00 P.M. We returned at 2:00 P.M. and saw five birds eating acorns, dandelions, grass, and crabapples. At 3:00 we saw many birds land on the field. They were foraging on the grass and appeared to have little fear of our presence.  We took pictures and were allowed to stand around two feet in front of them before they noticed our presence. They did not move when they heard the manual shutter from our camera.  It took one bird approximately one second before it moved to a new location.

On October 21, 1999 ( 2:00 - 3:59) we observed on Brooklyn College athletic field that they were not eating. We did observed birds flying back and forth from tree to tree. They were on nesting poles. The birds were positioned but there was little activity. One flew out, while the others remained inside. We did not observe any food consumption.  

                                (4:00 P.M. ) on Bedford and Avenue I we observed no birds or any activity.
on Campus Road and Bedford Avenue we observed that the nests that were on the air conditioners had moved.  There were no trace of the nest or the birds.  Bedford Avenue and Avenue I and East 26 Street we observed a large nest that held approximately 8 birds. There was a tremendous amount of activity. We also observed them eating acorns. On East 23 and Avenue J we saw three birds eating acorns and making a lot of noise. On Avenue I and East 27th Street we observed 7 birds actively bring in nesting materials and in addition, we observed a parrot eating an acorn on a telephone wire.  On Avenue I and East 26th Street we observed 8 birds actively flying back and forth. We also saw them with a crabapple in their mouth.

November 4, 1999 ( 3:30 - 4:00) We observed many birds flying back and forth from tree to tree. We did not see any consumption on the athletic field.

November  22, 1999 ( 3:45 - 4:00 P.M.)  We observed no activity due to inclement weather (raining).

November 29, 1999(4:15 - 5:00)  on Campus Road  we saw one bird on the air conditioner peaking out once in a while.  On the athletic field we saw 5 birds perched on the lamp post on the right side.  They were flying back and forth. While we watched their flight we viewed one of the birds relieving themselves. We approached the ramp and examined the droppings. We counted 11 droppings and saw a distinct color change in its appearance. This change was not the same as what we had previously viewed, it was purple in color.  We began to search the possibilities of their consumption and located an berry branch on the ramp next to James Hall. The berry branch was brown in color in had purple grape-like fruits the size of cranberries. Each of them contained three seeds when dissected. This branch was right below these droppings.

Due to these observations we have concluded that these birds have very much adapted to any environmental food supply that is in abundance. They seem to prefer any food source that is in a location . They appear to modify they diet to the supply of their locations. These birds consume whatever they need to sustain life. If sunflowers are in abundance they will eat them. If acorns are the only food source, they will consume that. If berries surround them they will eat to their hearts' content.  Through this observation and examination of their waste we find that the monk parakeets  are very resourceful in striving for survival.  

Books for Reference 

1. Peterson, Roger Troy.   A Field Guide to Birds: a completely new guide to all the birds of Eastern and Central North America.  (Peterson Field Guide), 1998 fourth edition.
2.  Athan, Mattie Sue.  A Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior.    Barron's Education Series. Published     January 1986.

3.   Athan, Mattie Sue.  A Guide to the Quaker Parrot. (Sept. 1997) Barron Educational Series.
4.  Earle, Olive L. Birds and their Nests.   William Morrow and Company Publishing, 1952.
6.  Nayer, Judy. Birds at Your Fingertips.    1995.
7.  Boring, Mel.  Birds, Nests and Eggs.   1998.
8.  Kalman, Bobbie.  Birds Up Close.   School and Library Binding.    1997.
9.  Thomas, Boane Bonnie Munro.  My Parrot, My Friend: An Owner's Guide to Parrot Behavior.    Qualkinbush.  (1995) IDG Books Worldwide.
10.  Dunn, Jon I.  National Geographic:  Field Guide to the Birds of North America (revised and updated)  1999 third edition.
11.  Pallotta, Jerry  The Bird Alphabet Book. Illustrator Edgar Steward.  Charles-bridge Publishing 1986.
12.  The Birder's Handbook:  A Field Guide to the National History of North American Birds  by Paul Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin and Darryl Wheye Contributor; 1988.
13.  The Harper Collin Biology Dictionary  by Whale and John Margham.
14.  The New Book of Popular Science  by Herbert Kondo; 1992.
15.  The Quaker Parrot:  An Owners Guide  by Pamela Leis Higdon.  Idg Books Worldwide. 1998.

Books for Children (in alphabetic order):

1.  A Bird's Body by Joanna Cole,  1997.
2.  Amazing Birds - Eyewitness Juniors Series and Alexandra Parsons, 1990.
3.  Birds Action Science by  Carolyn Bulton.
4.  Eyewitness Explores Birds  - Eyewitness Series.  1997.
5.  Eyewitness to Birds -  Eyewitness Juniors.  1997.
6.  The Night Squawker  by Dahlia Kosinski and Betsy Haynes, 1997.
7.  What is a Bird?   by Robert Snedden,  1993.
8.  What the Parrot Told Alice  by  Dale Smith, 1996.

Edited by Eleanor Miele
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