Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"The Myths that Surround the Monk Parakeet"

According to this 2005 lesson plan designed for the Connecticut Now and Then Teachers Institute by Kristen A. Daigle of the Yale Peabody Museum’s Education Department, third-grade students in the State of Connecticut “will be learning about the infamous Monk Parakeet and the myths that surround it.” Excerpts:
A myth is a very old, traditional story that is used to teach a lesson or help explain the natural world. Myths can also refer to stories that aren’t true, or can’t really be proven. For instance, many people think Bigfoot is a myth but no one really knows for sure.

One myth that many people have heard is the myth of the Monk Parakeet in Connecticut. It is generally believed that in the late 1960s a container of parakeets was dropped and broke open at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Several birds escaped and established wild populations on Long Island. Since then, the birds have spread into Connecticut, with populations reported from Branford to Norwalk. Escaped pets have probably joined the original birds.

People have been telling this story for years. Many wondered how the Monk Parakeet found its way into our backyards, and someone came up with a story to explain it.

The truth be told, the Monk Parakeet, or Quaker Parakeet, ordinarily resides in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the late 1960s large numbers of these birds were sent to this country by the pet industry. No one really knows how these birds made their way into the wild, but we do know that Monk Parakeets have been sighted all over the United States.
I always thought the “story” about birds escaping from a dropped shipping container at JFK airport in the late 1960s was factual, not a myth.

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