This Sunday, Danielle's brother Ross visited us for the day and we took him "urban birding." In the morning, we went in search of Monk Parakeets. We had previously tried several locations in Austin with no luck. At some locations, we think the city had torn down the colonies. At others, the colony nests were empty. Of course, it's possible that in freezing weather the birds simply holed up and refused to come out of their warm nests. Smart birds!
Our first stop this trip was the prairie restoration pond at Austin Mueller, a planned community on the site of the old city airport. We saw a total of six birds there, including this pair which had settled for a snack at a resident's bird feeder.
We also saw several Canvasback in the pond, another new bird, as well as Coots, Scaups, Grebes, and a Great Blue Heron.
On our way to lunch, we tried our luck at the UT Intramural Fields at the corner of Guadalupe and 51st ... and hit the jackpot. In the light fixtures above a game of "Quidditch" in progress, we found several active colonies and saw at least 50 birds, many working on nest building. This species builds large "condo" complexes with multiple entrances for different bird pairs.
In the nearby trees, we found parakeets breaking off long twigs and flying them back to the colony.
We also saw a number on the power lines, grouped in social pairs.