How to Find Wild Parrots in Chicago

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You wouldn't think that wild parrots could survive Chicago's freezing winters but the Quaker parrots (also called monk parakeets) in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood are a thriving community and have lived there since the early 1980s. They are easy to see any time of year.

How to Find Wild Parrots in Chicago

Take the 55th Street/East Garfield Boulevard exit off of I90-94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) east towards the University of Chicago. From Lakeshore Drive, take the 55th Street exit west. You are looking for Nichols Park, which is between 54th and 655th streets just east of Woodlawn Avenue and the University of Chicago campus.

Park anywhere you can. The closer you are to the University of Chicago campus the harder it is to find parking but there is ample parking along 55th Street. It is a pleasant, safe neighborhood with a mix of funky shops and old residences.

Walk through the park and look up in the trees. Quaker parrots are light green with pale green or yellow underbellies and 8-11" long. They have pale gray heads and orange beaks and are pretty hard to miss. In some trees and atop an old apartment building in the north west corner of the park, you can see their large bulky nests built of twigs woven together. The parrot colonies stay warm by flocking together during the long winters in these nests. Native to the hot tropical climate of South America, these highly intelligent little parrots have adapted to the urban environment and cold Midwestern winters by building communities.

Scatter some bird seed if you are in Nichols Park during the cold months. The parrots survive the winter by eating from bird feeders and seed put out by people living in the neighborhood.

Bring your camera and take plenty of photos because many people won't believe that there is a large feral parrot population thriving in downtown Chicago!

Tips & Warnings

  • Quaker parrots have established colonies in several other US cities, including Brooklyn NY, although Chicago is the coldest climate they are known to survive in.
  • Quaker parrots are extremely intelligent and when kept in captivity can live to about thirty years old and learn scores of words.
  • It is illegal to own Quaker parrots in several states in the USA because they are so hardy and can become an invasive species when feral colonies get established, especially in farmland.

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