[CT Birds] On Monk Parakeet sightings in "odd" places

Kevin Burgio kevin.burgio at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 13:15:45 EST 2013


Given the recent posts regarding Monk Parakeets being found in odd places,
I thought I'd investigate these recent Monk Parakeet sightings and compare
them to what's known about the biology of these birds.

Starting with Mike Warner's observation today in Wilton, using my
(incomplete) database of nest sites within the state, Schenk's Island is
just under 10km for the closest known nest site in Norwalk.  According to
the Birds of North America account (which I am presently revising for
Cornell) the maximum known home range / foraging distance is approximately
10 km from a nest, though the average is closer to 5 km. Though, no one, to
my knowledge, has explicitly studied home ranges of North American Monks in
general, or CT Monks specifically.  While it is entirely possible there may
be a nest closer to Wilton that I don't know about, these individuals are
likely a foraging flock from the Norwalk colony.

The second recent sighting, the one bird and nest in Willimantic, is a
little trickier to explain.  A genetic study published in 2010 ("Genetic
evidence for high propagule pressure and long-distance dispersal in monk
parakeet invasive populations" - Goncalves da Silva et al. 2010), found
that Monks are capable of dispersing up to 100km, which is a huge change
from the previous estimate of only about 2 km.  The two closest known nest
sites, one in New Britain and one in Old Saybrook are well within this
range.  As the crow (or parakeet in this case) flies, the colony in Old
Saybrook is about 50km away and the one in New Britain is about 48km from
the one in Willimantic.  Even the colony in the Lordship area of Stratford
(98km) is within their potential dispersal range.  Even though it is within
reason that the bird did disperse on its own and took up residence in
Willimantic, it is still might be possible that the bird is a released pet,
even though there aren't any bands on the bird and no one has reported a
missing Monk.  If there were two birds nesting there, I'd be more convinced
that this was, in fact, a dispersal event.  Without genetic testing, it
would be very hard to say, ultimately.  Regardless, I will be very
interested if others join him/her and whether or not they start a new
colony in Willimantic.


Kevin Burgio (CV)<http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/eebedia/images/b/bb/Burgio_CV2.pdf>
Ph.D. Student
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
University of Connecticut
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dept
U-3043 75 No. Eagleville Road
Storrs, CT  06269-3043
kevin.burgio at uconn.edu
(860) 486-3839
Monk Parakeet Research Website <http://www.eeb.uconn.edu/people/burgio>

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