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Saint Xavier professor studies monk parakeets

Seeks volunteers to help with study

Chicago (Oct. 25, 2006) – Saint Xavier University assistant professor Christopher Appelt, Ph.D., is looking for volunteers to help him study the impact of monk parakeets on native bird species in the Chicago area.

“Monk parakeets in Chicago have been shown to rely almost exclusively on bird feeders during the winter months. Since other bird species use feeders, too, I want to determine whether they are affected by the presence of monk parakeets,” said Appelt, a professor of biology and animal behavior. “To do this, I need volunteers who can collect data on the types of birds using feeders in areas both with and without monk parakeets. That way I’ll have information for both ‘control’ and ‘experimental’ areas to make a comparison.”

Appelt is seeking volunteers who can spend some time each week from November through March collecting information about the species using their feeders. If volunteers have monk parakeets at their feeders, Appelt wants them to observe interactions between monk parakeets and other birds.

“Despite their rapid expansion in the Chicagoland area and other locations in the United States and the rest of the world, no one has ever examined whether monk parakeets have a significant impact on other avian species in the areas they colonize,” Appelt said.

Also known as Quaker parakeets, monk parakeets were first spotted in Blue Island in 1968. Native to South America, they have bright green plumage with grey bellies and a loud screeching chirp. They were a favorite of former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who enjoyed their presence in his Hyde Park neighborhood. 

“These birds are unique among parrots because they are not cavity nesters. Rather, they build large stick nests, often with many separate ‘apartments,’” he said. “In Chicagoland, these conspicuous nests are often built on cell towers, electrical towers/poles, and evergreen trees. Furthermore, these birds use their nests year-round. Living in groups and using their nests during the non-breeding season might, in part, explain their ability to withstand Chicago winters.”

Those interested in helping with the study may contact Appelt at (773) 298-3521 or appelt@sxu.edu. 

Founded in 1846 by the Sisters of Mercy, Saint Xavier University is a comprehensive Catholic university serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago and Orland Park. The University offers 35 undergraduate majors and more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing with day, evening and weekend courses to fit busy schedules.


Contact Deborah Snow Humiston
773-298-3325 or snowhumiston@sxu.edu

Saint Xavier University, a Catholic institution inspired by the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, educates men and women to search for truth, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good.

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