Chasing Parakeets and Parrots
I’m trying to imagine how this looks to the folks in town. A bunch of white vans driving up and down the streets of Harlingen, Texas, driving slow and occasionally stopping as eight people peer out the windows with binoculars and then Dave, our drive says, “Nope! Nothing here,” and he drives off to try the same thing a corner away. This repeats itself several times.
Occasionally Dave gets a text from another van. Or a call on his cell phone. Someone thinks they’ve got them.
The parakeets, that is. We’re driving around in white vans looking for Green Parakeets.
What likely is a noisy nuisance to neighbors is a delight for us birders at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas and this has most definitely been the funnest field trip of the week.
After only about 40 minutes of five vans driving around town searching for the parakeets we found a flock of about 40-50 parakeets in one of the many ornamental fruit trees that are found in town. It’s these fruit trees that are the attraction for these flocks
As it got closer to sunset we knew the Red-crowned Parrots were also going to begin to gather and roost. We hopped into our vans and soon found the screeching parrots at the corner of 3rd and Williamson. They don’t necessarily roost in the same corner every night–they move around. At this point we had created a bit of a birder traffic jam in the neighborhood. A gentleman in our group asked a young family who lived at the home near the tree with all the parrots if they’d like to look through his scope. The little 3-year-old boy with hair black as ink and cocoa skin grinned so much after looking through the scope to see the parrots that I thought his cheeks were going to pop like little water balloons. His older sister takes a turn at the scope and says, “Neat! I’ve never seen them up close before.” And then their mom takes a turn. It’s the least we could do. We’ve descended on their neighborhood so we should let them take part in the fun too.
The parrots move another two blocks away and we pick up scopes and march a couple blocks over to watch them again as the sun begins its descent into the horizon. The birds are now sitting on the power lines, taking turns swooping back into a nearby fruit tree and then flying back to the power lines again.
And then all together as if cued by an orchestra’s conductor the squawking parrots crescendo and as a large mass they leave the tree and power lines to fly over our heads to where they’re going to roost for the night.