The monk parrots gather behind Lake Highlands High School.

The monk parrots gather behind Lake Highlands High School.

One of our staffers here at the Advocate shot the photo at left of the monk parakeets — also known as monk parrots or Quaker parrots — gathering for breakfast behind Lake Highlands High School.

A close look at the monk reveals a loveable little white face peering out from a hood of bushy lime green feathers, and when the bird spreads its wings, splashes of blue color the wing and tail.

If you ever are inclined to see a larger monk colony, head over to the west side of White Rock Lake, near the filter building. For a story a few years ago, George Boyd, who works at the Wild Birds Unlimited retail store on Mockingbird at Abrams, told us exactly where to find the White Rock Lake monk parakeet colony.

“You can’t really miss it,” he said at the time, explaining that the birds live in huge, multi-chambered straw nests in the upper branches of 25-foot-tall TXU electrical equipment.

“You’ll hear them before you see them,” he noted. Native to South American countries such as Chile, southern Brazil and Argentina, the parrots enjoy extreme heat, Boyd says, and the electrical tower emits a good deal of it.

*It’s a fascinating scene at the colony near the southwest shore of White Rock Lake — chain-link fences bearing ominous signs warning “DANGER”, “KEEP OUT” and “HIGH VOLTAGE” surround lofty metal towers that help power the city. You’ll also notice the relentless squawking, which can be grating at first, though it eventually settles into a strangely rhythmic pattern of screeches, chatter and song that is tolerable, if not pleasant. One pair of green chatterboxes is perched on steel extensions, and others fly to and from several sizeable nests cradled in metallic arms.


The largest colony of monk parrots in our area is near the filter building at White Rock Lake.

There is only speculation about how this particular spot became the birds’ neighborhood hub, Boyd says.

Some say a crate on a truck transporting them as pets some 30 years ago broke open, turning them loose. Others say pet owners grew tired of caring for the birds and let them go.

Either way, they gathered near this equipment and multiplied. Boyd says he recalls when there were just eight or so birds in one nest; today, there are hundreds. *Read the whole story here.