Recently I have been observing a lot of Monk Parakeets feeding on Cypress seeds near where I live in Madrid, Spain. These birds are not native to Spain but I get the sense that there numbers are growing quite rapidly here. A few months ago I wrote a post about the nests that these birds make in trees. One observation is that I never see these birds alone, they are always in groups. The groups that I have been seeing lately near my home number from six to 40 individuals.
My attention was first drawn to what was going on by the loud screeching that these parrots make. This screeching caught my attention the other day as I was out walking and I began to count how many birds there were in the tall, columnar Cypress tree. There were more than ten in the first tree. Then I saw that a few more nearby trees were also occupied. I did not get an exact count but there must have been more than 40 birds hanging out in the vicinity of a row of 10 Italian Cypress trees.
Then I began to watch what these birds were doing. I watched as they would grab a Cypress "cone" with the claws of one foot and then begin to tear into it with their beaks. The image above is of a cone that got dropped before all the seeds could be eaten. Some of the parrots were grabbing cones and then flying to nearby trees to pick them apart. In the process they were dropping quite a few seeds. This was providing quite a banquet for a flock of smaller birds who were hanging out under these trees.
The image above is of a close-up of the seeds that these Monk Parakeets were eating. By the way that they go after them it seems that they are a preferred source of food for these new kids on the block.