Monday, November 17, 2014

Bird of the Day: Budgerigars in the Pastures!

This morning's walk had a big surprise. For a year I've been walking around the pasture a few blocks from my house looking for native species to photograph. I've seen 35-40 species so far, but today there was such a bright flash of fluorescent green and blue that I knew I as seeing something new.
It was immediately evident that I was not looking at a native species, because the only native parrots in the United States were extirpated nearly a century ago (the Carolina Parrot and the Thick-billed Parrot). There is a chance we may one day see the Thick-billed Parrot in the wild again, but the Carolina Parrot is gone forever. The birds in the pasture today are obviously Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), or the Common Parakeet. They are clearly escaped or released pets, because they are native to Australia.
I have no idea if this pair is naturalized or feral. It seems to me I would have noticed if they'd been around over the last year. Normally I'd be concerned about feral non-natives, but as many birders point out, these are birds that are occupying habitats made by human intervention. The native birds are already gone for the most part in the urban environment, and the parrots would disappear if we did.
In any case, the two birds I saw today provided a bright splash of color on an overcast gloomy day. I was cheered because the two were together. They are social birds, and I have a lot of empathy for any creature that is alone and separated from others of its kind.

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