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The Hyde Park Parrots

By November 25, 2008

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Hyde Park Parrots
I spotted this monk parrot this morning on the south side of the Museum of Science and Industry. There were about eight of them hanging out and eating berries off the tree.

Hyde Park residents have grown accustomed to seeing and hearing these birds. But on first encounter, they can be quite startling. Years ago, I drove by a tree that was full of them when my windows were rolled down. Their telltale squawk stopped me in my tracks. I simply had to pull over and identify where the sound was coming from.

I couldn't believe wild parrots could survive in a city setting as harsh as ours, but there they were. At least a dozen of them were perched in a tree near nests that looked like bird equivalents of giant winter parkas. It's really quite astonishing to see them living here. I had that same feeling this morning.

The parrots, which are also known as monk parakeets and Quaker parakeets, originated in South America and do prefer a temperate climate. However, they've survived quite beautifully on the South Side (and elsewhere in the state) despite some very harsh winters. They were first documented in Hyde Park in 1973. Now, more than 200 parrots are believed to live there.

How to See the Hyde Park Parrots

If you'd like to try to catch a glimpse of the parrots, here's where I recommend you go.
  • Harold Washington Playlot Park
  • 5200 South Hyde Park Boulevard
  • Chicago, IL
  • Map It
Begin inspecting the trees there, especially on the south end of the park. That's arguably one of the best spots to get a chance to see them. It's also where I pulled my car over on that startling summer day.

Related: © Jennifer Roche
November 28, 2008 at 3:23 pm
(1) Ingrid says:

We have our own long-standing parrot friends here in SF — and I’ve seen flocks in Los Angeles. I didn’t realize these guys could sustain in a Chicago winter. How beautiful . . . and adaptable.

November 29, 2008 at 5:36 am
(2) Jennifer says:

They are beautiful and adaptable, although they do seem a bit more likely naturals for California than here.

January 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm
(3) charlie says:

Hey Jennifer, we have a pretty good size flock
of these birds living in the Oak Lawn area.
I have seen them flying around the trees all
winter long. I first seen one two summers ago
trying to drink water from our swimming pool.
Then at the end of this summer there were about six of them. now there must be about 20 of them flying from tree to tree. do you have any idea what to feed them.

January 18, 2009 at 10:44 am
(4) chicago says:

Glad to hear Oak Park gets to enjoy the parrots, too. I don’t know what they eat, but I’m hopeful someone knowledgeable will stumble across this post and let us nkow.

January 25, 2009 at 8:46 am
(5) Cockatoo says:

Nice birds!
Could I use the photo on my site?

March 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm
(6) Richard says:

I too have seem the parrots on the south east side near St. Francis De Sales (I think I spelled that wrong). I also heard they were in Calumet Park on the lake front near highway 41.

May 21, 2009 at 5:15 pm
(7) Caitlin says:

I saw 3 of these Monk Parrots on May 20th 2009 at McKinley Park on the West side near Archer around 4:30 pm.

May 28, 2009 at 8:51 pm
(8) tyner white says:

1. Halsted and 119th

Monk Parrots now have a four-foot-wide nest on an electric tower within twenty feet of the intersection, with birds visible at all times on warm days hanging on or around the nest like urban humans do on their front porch.
The nest is only twenty feet or so above the ground, and conveniently near the sidewalk so it is easy to spend time there watching the birds. The City of Chicago, in honor of Harold Washington, could have some benches built to sit on while watching.

In a back yard over a hundred feet northeast of the corner is a tall telephone tower with at least six nests in it. I haven’t been over close to it to try to see if those nests are still used.

13531 S. Indiana Avenue

As of May 2009 a nest has been constructed 100 feet up in a tower located in a locked fenced enclosure used by ATT on the grounds of the 135th Pl. facility of the
Resource Center, overlooking the Great Calumet River and Indiana Av. bridge. (Reached by PACE bus 353. A good time to visit the Center, where many aspects of recycling and reuse can be viewed, is Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and one can see the birds on the same trip; or just stand on the south end of the bridge.)

Pending the assistant of experts on video photography, maybe a camera with a long distance lens (100 feet up, remember) can be trained on this nest, and footage collected of the birds’ behavior which could be edited down to create an instructive video.

June 16, 2009 at 8:24 am
(9) Sme says:

Hyde Park (in London this time) also has it’s own colonies of parrots: I saw a few by the Albert Memorial the other day.

June 16, 2009 at 9:02 am
(10) chicago says:

Sme – Were they rattling their jewelry?

August 10, 2009 at 12:08 am
(11) Annette says:

Today, I seen about 20 parrots on the Westside of Chicago (4900 block of Gladys), needless to say, I was shocked to see so many of them. It kinda reminded me of the movie “The Birds”. They were making so much noise, which drew my attention to them in the first place. They are beautiful

August 25, 2009 at 9:39 am
(12) Jeff says:

I just saw a dozen of them in Elk Grove Village at the intersection of Pratt and Tonne at about 7:30 this morning. I’ve seen them down in the city before but never this far west, pretty cool!!!

August 26, 2009 at 7:38 pm
(13) Jeff says:

It seems that the parrots may be taking up permanent residence somewhere in the industrial park in Elk Grove Village as I saw a significant group of about 25-30 near the intersection of Greenleaf and Lively. Or they may be in the Busse forrest preserve nearby and going into the industrial area to search for food, quite interesting.

August 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm
(14) chicago says:

Hey Jeff, it is pretty cool to see them, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your sightings. Wonder what the population in Illinois is now. . .

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