Parakeet perches at public works

They start seeing the exotic monk parakeet about this time of year outside the Charlotte County Public Works Office on Florida Street in Punta Gorda. Public Works Director John Elias is their photographer, and Charlotte County posted this photo this week on the county’s Facebook page. Elias said he planted a special butterfly garden to attract wildlife at the public works site. Also known as the quaker parakeet, it is a transplant from South America that went rogue, supposedly during the pet trade heyday of the 1960s and 1970s. It has surprised naturalists by surviving as far north as Chicago and New York City. It is found wild in Europe also. In Florida, it is considered invasive because it sets up large nests on things like utility poles, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reports, and also, it may compete with local species for food. People have reported sightings of the bird in many parts of Sarasota County and in Punta Gorda and Englewood, according to a map from FWC. Elias said he sees them, or hears them loudly squawking, in Gilchrist Park. According to the Quaker Information Center, they can be taught to speak and show awareness of language. FWC encourages the public to report sightings of the birds at or on the phone app of the same name.

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