Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...

Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...
Run Free: birthdate unknown - Oct. 17 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

After the storm ...

At the gallery yesterday, when H-Mom opened the front door in the afternoon - she saw a hint of sunshine - she knew that Tropical Storm Fay had passed. It didn't matter what the Weather Channel was reporting: the parakeets had returned. They were fiesty, arguing and pushing each other from palm frond to frond. Settling back in after having been so unceremoniously dislodged by the evil weather. (Thank you, Google images ... H-Mom doesn't have a telephoto lens!)

Those of us who live and work in downtown Fort Lauderdale have become pretty oblivious to the troops of green monk parakeets that quarrel in the trees of the Las Olas median, or fly from wire to wire in the alleys.

The brightly colored and loud-voiced birds demand attention from out-of-town visitors. People often stop outside the gallery window, with their heads and cameras turned to the palm trees. The parakeets create quite a bit of excitement. Most Americans have seen parakeets only in pet stores, zoos or Caribbean-themed bars.

Immigrants, monk parakeets are native to South America. The Fort Lauderdale parakeets have descended from birds that were released by their Floridian owners on purpose or by accident. Urban legend contends that many were freed from Parrot Jungle by Hurricane Wilma. They have established stable, feral communities in Fort Lauderdale. The birds are self-sustained breeding colonies, established populations that have easily adapted to Florida’s climate and ecosystems. Birds that seem tame are most likely recently escaped or abandoned pets. Wild birds rarely tolerate people, and can be befriended only with dedicated attention.

Although not native to Florida, here the monk parakeets cause only minor ecological distress. The main problem the birds create is for local utility companies such as Florida Power & Light. They cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to electrical equipment because they often build their large, communal stick nests on electrical transformers. The bulky nests get wet during rainstorms and fall, causing short circuits to electrical transformer boxes.

In the late '60s and 70's, Florida Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to eradicate the wayward parakeets. The effort was abandoned because of the huge scale of the bird invasion. Now, there is a market for captured parakeet chicks. Trapping and selling monk parakeets is legal in Florida because it is a non-native species.

We don't encourage our visitors to climb after parakeet hatchlings, however. Every once in awhile, there is news item on an industrious parakeet hunter who got tangled -- and fried -- in high voltage wires.



What a shocking story. We are glad your sun is returning. Take care and may every Hurricane season be mellow.

Essex & Deacon

Bolo said...

Glad you're ok Booker. My Dad has told stories about those silly parakeet hunters. Humans can be so silly sometimes.

Patience-please said...

We were thinking of you. Glad you're OK!

wags from the whippets

Cocoa the Beagle said...

That's some interesting stuff about parakeets! We only have birds like crows and sparrows over here. My bro Barley once picked up a dead sparrow and carried it in his mouth during one of our walkies. Mum thought thought it was just some dead leaves and let him carried it for a while. Well, you can imagine what happened after that. Yeah, she took out the dead bird with her hands not knowing it wasn't just leaves. EWWW!!

Celeste said...

Glad you survived the storm. Big ones can be scary.

When I lived in Dallas, there was a flock of parrots that lived near White Rock Lake. For a short time, they would come to my backyard -- really cool seeing a bunch of parrots in an oak tree.

Maggie and Mitch said...

We have those monk parakeets here in CT too, Booker, and they build the same kind of nests on top of the phone poles around electrical wires! The birds are not well liked at all! It's too bad they're not smarter about where they raise their families! They're really such pretty birds!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

Hey Booker. I'm sure glad you survived Fay. I didn't realize you live in Fort Lauderdale. That's where my parents got married. They want to go back there for an anniversary because they really liked the place they ate for the reception!


PS. Check my blog tomorrow because I'm going to mention something you said in a comment. You're genius!

Katherine and Pippa said...

Hiya Booker

Thanks for visiting. You have an interesting blog so I'll have a little back read (well, mistress will) and catch you later.