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Monk Parakeet breeding at Tangier, northern Morocco

The Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus), an invasive species from South America, found breeding at Tangier for the first time.

The story began when Alfonso Escajadillo O Connor, a naturalist and birder from Peru, observed 6 individuals of Monk Parakeet nest building in a Phoenix canariensis tree at Tangier on 12 February 2015.

When Alfonso met Rachid in Tétouan a few days later he alerted him of the presence of these exotic birds.

So this afternoon, we headed to Tangier in order to locate the site and found out more about this breeding event. After our arrival, we searched around some parks and private residences for about 30 minutes before finally heard the calls or chatter of the Monk Parakeets. Although we have never heard them before, but their exotic chatting was easy to distinguish from the familiar songs of the native birds present in the parks. Soon after we observed 5 individuals and then small groups consisting of 2-3 birds. Later we also saw a pair on a palm tree.

Information gathered from several witnesses (guards of different residences, a shop owner and a passer-by from the neighbourhood) all indicated that the Monk Parakeets started to breed in this area since at least 3 years. The birds were nesting in at least two different places at Marchan quarter: the former Italian Consulate and Al-Kortobi Hospital just across the road. And according to the guards, there were at least 16 birds in the first site and at least one breeding pair in the second.

One of the guards allowed us to see the nests for a brief time, but he requested not using the camera and binoculars once we are inside. We respected his request and all the photographs we have were taken from the road.

We should point out that the first breeding record of this invasive species in Northwest Africa was at the city of Melilla in 2012 (3 pairs building nests in Eucalyptus trees observed by Diego Jerez Abad). One year later, the species has already started to expand in Melilla (8 individuals in 3 new colonial nests observed also by Diego).

We will go back to Tangier when time allows. These observations will be forwarded to the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee (MRBC) for the record.

Gracias Alfonso!

Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian


M.A. visited the site on 19 August 2016 and estimated at least 20 Monk Parakeets were present inside the old consulate and counted 3 birds at the hospital. A short video of their calls/chatter is posted at the Moroccan Birds Facebook page.

Monk Parakeet / Conure veuve (Myiopsitta monachus), Tangier, Morocco, 24 Feb. 2015 (Rachid El Khamlichi)
Monk Parakeet / Conure veuve (Myiopsitta monachus), Tangier, Morocco, 24 Feb. 2015 (Rachid El Khamlichi).

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