[Tweeters] the Monk Parakeet thread

Hal Opperman hal at catharus.net
Wed Nov 28 19:57:21 PST 2007


I think Gene Hunn is right on with his comments about parakeets in a vacant
urban niche. As an example, take the small population of Monk Parkeets that
became established on the South Side of Chicago in the early '70s and is now
a source of great community pride, as well as a tourist attraction, in my
old stomping grounds of Hyde Park. This population, which has stabilized at
about 200 birds, has become symbolic of the gruff and tough Chicago
identity, in no small part because the parakeets cheerfully and
resourcefully survive those dreadful Chicago winters. A vast amount has been
written on the subject. For a popular introduction, try this:


There is also a scientific literature on the Hyde Park parakeets if you are
so inclined, with papers published in prestigious journals such as Condor
and the Wilson Bulletin.

Novelist Saul Bellow (1915-2005), a longtime Hyde Park resident and winner
of the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes and of several National Book Awards, was an
admirer of these parakeets and wrote them into his last novel, Ravelstein,
published in 2000. The birds show up in many other literary works as well.

Birding is a human activity, after all, and therefore has a cultural
dimension. Which is no small part of its value, and its appeal.

Hal Opperman
Medina, Washington
hal at catharus.net

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