Nesting parrots number only five

An up-close inspection this week indicates Port Orchard has fewer parrots than had been rumored — and what few there are don’t appear to be in the family way.

The “Quaker,” or “Monk,” parrots nesting atop the Cingular Wireless cell phone tower on Mitchell Road were checked out on Thursday morning after neighbors reported suspicions there were eggs, or possibly chicks, in the nest.

“We were concerned because if there were fledgling birds up there, they might be ready to fly away before we came back to capture them,” said Greg Schirato, a biologist from the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife. “That would obviously have made the job a lot harder.”

The exotic birds are currently scheduled to be rounded up and turned over to the Olympic Bird Fanciers Club in June. In the meantime, Schirato estimates no more than five parrots currently inhabit the nest — far fewer than the 25 or so some had thought.

More importantly, the nest contained no parrot eggs or chicks.

“There was a squirrel living in another part of the nest, and that would have been a problem if there had been eggs because he would have eaten them,” said Schirato, who was hoisted aloft in a cherry-picker to conduct the visual inspection.

Fortunately, he saw no shell fragments in the nest cup, indicating there never were any parrot eggs.

Schirato said he did see one small egg elsewhere in the nest, but judging by its size he believes it is a starling — a species known to lay its eggs in nests constructed by other birds.

“When you think about it, it’s kind of remarkable these parrots were even able to build a nest like this,” Schirato said. “Having been born and raised in captivity, they’ve probably never even seen a nest. But the nesting behavior is so strongly in-bred in them that they just instinctively knew what they were doing.”

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