What’s up with these urban, northern parrots?

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ITHACA, N.Y. — Flocks of squawking parrots may seem out of place in Chicago or New York, but they have become common in recent years. Monk Parakeets, originally from South America, are now established in several North American cities because of escaped pets. They are often considered a pest because of the large nests they build in electrical lines.

Biologists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the University of Chicago want to know what effect these invasive parrots are having on native birds, but they need help from citizen scientists to do it. “Data from the public are critical in helping shape our understanding of the impact of Monk Parakeets,” says Stephen Pruett-Jones a professor at the University of Chicago who studies these birds.

Bird watchers can help by participating in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project, FeederWatch, an annual winter survey of feeder birds from November through April. “We have relatively few participants in urban areas,” says Project FeederWatch project leader Dr. Emma Greig. “We need participants with and without monk parakeets at their feeders to help us understand the impact of this species on native birds.”

To learn more, visit www.FeederWatch.org or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. Registration for this season ends Feb. 28.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

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