The Monks of Rome

We’re wandering around a park in suburban Rome and there are squawks filling the air.

I’ve seen the Ring Necked Parakeets here in Rome before:

Rome’s Rose-Ringed Parakeets

These are different, they have grey fronts and blue wings. There are groups of the long-tailed green birds flying from tree to tree eating the buds. They huddle together in lines on branches and ‘kiss’.

Monk Parakeets - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They are Monk Parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus:

Monk Parakeets - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They have built huge stick nests which fill trees. I’m told that these communal nests can reach the size of a car. I’m in Italy, so I wonder… which car?

Fiat 500 - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

In the UK, DEFRA, our Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, believes the Monk Parakeet is such a danger to national infrastructure, because they occasionally nest on electricity pylons; and such a threat to agriculture, because they eat fruit and fruit tree buds; and such a threat to human health from their droppings below communal nests, that they have run a large project to remove them all.

The UK Government spent £259,000 killing or rehoming 62 birds from 2011 to 2014. Here are the details: EIR. That’s over £4,000 per bird. DEFRA contractors also destroyed 21 nests and collected 212 eggs. A quick search reveals that it’s easy to buy a Monk Parakeet in the UK and a breeding pair could be mine for £85 each. Birdtrader says that “Quaker parrots can develop to an intelligence level of a 3-5 year old child.” What a shame our Government can’t.

Monk Parakeets - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This is the same UK Government which still allows their importation from South America and incarceration as household pets. In their advice for Monk Parakeet owners Pets4Homes suggests a minimum cage size of 18 inches square. Personally I suggest outdoors in South America.

Monk Parakeets - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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