There are no wild parrots or parakeets in Minnesota. Once it was thought the Carolina parakeet's range nipped southwestern Minnesota, but the bird got no closer to us than southern Iowa.

That's as close as Minnesota came to receiving at least a visit from a North American member of the parrot family (there were only two).

It's history now. The brightly colored bird was officially declared extinct in 1939, the last confirmed sighting in the wild in 1910.

We were and are a state without parrots, birds that 23 other U.S. states can claim. (We do have the rare escaped budgie; it doesn't count.)

Arrival in this country of European settlers began the end for the Carolina species. Ditto the thick-billed parrot, once a resident of southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Chicago and New York City both have monk parakeets, beloved by some birders and people who fancy parrots and parakeets, but scorned by power companies.

The birds, tropical by nature, unaccustomed to winter but clever survivors, build large stick nests on or around transformers on power poles. Nests catch fire, electricity is interrupted.

The monk populations were introduced to those cities as escapees or released cage birds. They are kept as pets by many people. That's the story for all of the 56 parrot-family species now on the loose somewhere in the U.S.

Of those, 25 species are known to have formed breeding colonies.

Stephen Pruett-Jones is an ecologist at the University of Chicago and author of a new book from Princeton University Press, "Naturalized Parrots of the World."

(Naturalized means these birds escaped the cage or were released, found a neighborhood suitable, and made themselves at home.)

Pruett-Jones also has written a very complete summary of naturalized parrots in the U.S. for, online location for the Chicago Medical Center.

Thousands of monk parakeets were imported from South America in the 1950s and 1960s for the pet trade. By 1968, escapees or released birds were breeding in the wild in 10 states, including Chicago's Hyde Park.

This is where Pruett-Jones became familiar with them.

Research by him and one of his students established that the most common species in this country are the monk, red-crowned Amazon and Nanday parakeets. The birds are most frequently found in the warm climates of California, Texas and Florida.

Parrots are the most threatened avian group in the world. It is the trade in parrots — captured for the pet market — that poses the largest threat. If people weren't so keen on parrots and parakeets as pets the threat would be much smaller.

If you harbor thoughts of getting a parrot for a pet, as I once did, there are reasons you should think twice, as I eventually did.

Or, consider this sentence from wikibeaks: "You can't make parrots do anything they don't want to do, such as obey you, stop chewing your furniture, be quiet, or at least be less loud than a jet engine. Parrots are loud and destructive by nature, and this CANNOT be trained out of them."

Someone wrote on one of the parrot websites that the birds are like 2-year-old children who never grow up, and live forever. This may explain the number of them that got released.

Lifelong birder Jim Williams can be reached at