Parakeets spotted, removed from UT intramural fields

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Photo Credit: Amber Perry | Daily Texan Staff

Although the subtropics of South America are thousands of miles from the subtropics of Austin, they have one thing in common ­­­­— they are home to the green-feathered, yellow-bellied Monk Parakeets.

The birds, which are native to South America, can be found all over Austin. Recently, the parakeets have been spotted at the UT Texas Red and Charline McCombs fields — where the UT softball team plays — and were previously relocated from the UT intramural fields.

According to Tim Keitt, who teaches the class ‘Biology of Birds’ at UT, the parakeets are not native to Austin but were introduced through the pet industry.

“These feral populations originated from escaped cage birds,” Keitt said. “I see Monk Parakeets all over Austin. The big concentrations are usually around open fields where they build large communal nests on (typically) light towers.”

The parakeets were recently removed from the intramural fields over the summer to prepare for the renovation of the lighting systems at the Whitaker Fields and Tennis Center Complex, Laurie Lentz, university co-communications manager, said. Lentz said precautions were taken to make sure no birds were harmed.

“A local subcontractor, Town Lake Construction LLC, was selected for the nest removal because of their strong record for successful, humane nest removal and bird handling,” Lentz said. “The nest removal was done from mid-summer into September, a time when most babies have fledged, the season is warm, and the birds have time to relocate before cold weather. Additionally, Town Lake Construction committed to taking any babies to Wildlife Rescue here in Austin.”

The removal of the light fixtures at the Intramural Fields began on Thursday.

Keitt said the birds that were removed from the location will “most likely build nests in another location.”

Joshua Richardson, electrical and computer engineering sophomore, said he sometimes sees the green birds perched on telephone wires when he parks his car near the Texas Red and Charline McCombs Fields in the morning before classes.

“The maximum number of birds I’ve seen on the mornings I’ve been there has been five at one time, I’m not sure there’s much more than that,” Richardson said. “I enjoy seeing them personally. They have those interesting colors and are in an area where you wouldn’t expect to see parakeets, of all things.”

Although the parakeets are not native to Austin, Lentz said they pose no threat to other species. Lentz said she has been able to watch some of the birds near her neighborhood in Central Austin.

“They love bird feeders and they don’t seem to be aggressive,” Lentz said. “It’s my understanding that they are considered non-native, but not ‘invasive’ because they don’t push other birds out.”