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UConn Scientists Discover Key To Monk Parakeet Nest Building Behavior

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The monk parakeet. It's been an expensive problem for utility companies and annoys residents.

The wild parakeets build large nests on utility poles which creates problems for the companies that deal with the power outages caused by the nests, and must maintain the wires and the poles. The birds create noise problems for residents nearby.

Now scientists at the University of Connecticut have discovered a key part of the birds behavior that could lead to a solution.

Scientists found when the birds start the nest, they fly to the pole with a small stick in their beaks. Because they cannot land on the pole directly in the early stages, the birds were observed by scientists to land on the wires and walk to the pole.

The nests can grow up to 200 pounds and United Illuminating has engaged in eradication programs to fight the birds and the resulting  outages.

Monk Parakeets

The study’s lead author Kevin Burgio, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut.

“They look like a guy walking a gangplank with a stick in his mouth,” said co-author Margaret Rubega, an associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn. Rubega, who is Burgio’s Ph.D. advisor, is also Connecticut’s State Ornithologist according to a UConn press release.

The researchers believe if there were a way to prevent the birds from getting close to the pole in the initial stages, the birds would move somewhere else.

The press release also said Burgio and Rubega are working with Midsun Group, Inc., a manufacturer of utility equipment, to create a means to stop birds.

In 2010, United Illuminating won a court case saying the parakeets were a safety hazard and not protected by regulations that applied to wild birds.

The study was published study published this week in the online journal PeerJ,

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