Monk parakeets are native to Argentina and the surrounding countries in South America. Their scientific name is Myiopsitta monachus and is also known as the Quaker parrot. They are small, bright green with a greyish breast and a greenish-yellow abdomen.
Monk parakeets are globally very common and in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay monk parakeets are regarded a major agricultural pest. In rural areas of South America, the population explosion has been associated with the expansion of eucalyptus forestry for paper pulp production. This offers the birds the opportunity to build protected nests in artificial forests. In Florida, their habits are in suburban areas feeding in large flocks at feeders or on lawns on grass seeds and insects. They have the potential to also become an agricultural pest in Florida as well.
Unfortunately, between the 1960s and 1980s, thousands of monk parakeets were imported into the United States. Many were intentionally or escaped and their population proliferated. In the early 1970s, they were established in seven states, by 1995 they had spread to eight more. In Florida alone, estimates range from 150,000 to 500,000 in 52 counties. The populations are confirmed breeding and apparently self-sustaining for 10 or more consecutive years.
The monk parakeet is often found in city parks. Their large communal stick nests that are built on electrical transmission structures can be a problem. They make large balls of twigs are that used year-round for roosting adults and are often situated high in royal palms, cabbage palms, melaleucas, or native oaks. It is a highly gregarious species with many of the colonies in Miami-Dade and Pinellas counties numbering in the hundreds. No eradication program has been implemented in Florida.
Currently, the effects on native species are unknown. As the most abundant naturalized parrot species it is the only member of the parrot family that is not a cavity nester. Tested birds seem to be remarkably free of Newcastle and other avian diseases.