Monk Parakeet

By Isabella Lo Sordo

Habitat and Nesting

The monk parakeet, the only parrot that builds a stick nest, resides in a tree or manmade structure, rather than nesting in a hole in a tree trunk. Often breeding colonially, they building a single large nest with separate "rooms". There are approximately 3 rooms for each mating pair. Colonies can become quite large in the wild, with nests reaching the size of a small automobile. These large structures can attract tenants of other species, including birds of prey, ducks, and even mammals.

The monk parakeet inhabits open savannas, scrub forests and palm groves, especially where the rainfall is low. They are a highly adaptive species, and are known to inhabit suburban areas. The monk parakeet is native to Argentina and surrounding South American countries, but were also introduced to North America and Europe. The species is considered an agriculutral pest, and are illegal in California.

The monk parakeet is a non-migrant species, and tend not to wander far from the nesting site unless food becomes scarce.

Fertilisation

The monk parrot  cross-fertilises, responsible for their trait of high adaptiveness.

The monk parrot, like all terrestrial birds, reproduce in an obscure method. The cloaca, an opening above the bird's tail, is linked with the excretory and reproductive systems. It is also responsible for releasing pheromones. The equivalent term for "copulation" for birds is the "cloacal kiss". Birds mate by touching their clocae together, in order to transfer the male gametes to the female. The process is very quick, lasting less than a minute, in most species.

Reproduction and Development

Monk Parakeets are oviparous, therefore offspring develop externally . Usually only one batch of eggs are produced, but another can be if the first are taken away.

The monk parakeets' 4-7 amniote eggs hatch within 24-30 days. They give a high level of parental care, using the method of K-selection, as offspring are small and unable to fend for themselves at first. Due to this fact, the Monk Parakeet has a considerably long lifespan: 15-20 years in the wild. In other species, amniote eggs are often vulnerable to being eaten by predators, however the larger animals that inhabit monk parakeets' nests tend to ward them off.

The above diagram depicts a cross-section of a standard bird egg. The shell is porous, and the yolk develops into an embryo once the egg has been fertilised. The "white" of the egg is comprised of various amino acids, which provide nutrition to the developing bird. The amniotic liquid helps insulate the embryo, and lubricates it, so that limbs do not form fused together. Amniotic fluid also acts as a shock absorber, so that the embryo is not injured before it hatches.

An advantage of amniotic eggs is that they do not face the risk of dehydration, unlike, for example, frogspawn. Ovipary can be better in contrast to the method of vivipary, as offspring continue to survive and develop, even if the parents die. Parents' exposure to harmful chemicals or environments does not affect eggs that have already been laid.

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages to ovipary. Eggs of oviparous animals are often left unattended. They are delicate and can easily be broken. The womb of a viviparous animal is guided by the conscious mind of the mother, however. The embryo is therefore kept safe in terms of location.



Other Points of Interest

Monk Parakeets are often kept domestically, and breeders aim to produce colour mutations in plumage of  blue, white, cinnamon and yellow. In the wild, though, they are only found in green.

Bibliography

 

Myiopsitta
  monachus
. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2013, from Encyclopedia
  of Life: http://eol.org/pages/915945/details

Wang, L. (2001). Myiopsitta
monachus
. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from Animal Diversity Web:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Myiopsitta_monachus.html

Cloaca. (2013, August 6). Retrieved September 11, 2013, from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaca

Dery, B. (2011). Egg. Retrieved September 18, 2013 from The Visual Dictionary: http://www.infovisual.info/02/062_en.html



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