Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference
Evaluation of trapping to reduce monk parakeet populations at electric utility facilities
- Author(s): Tillman, Eric A.
- Genchi, Ann C.
- Lindsay, James R.
- Newman, James R.
- Avery, Michael L.
- et al.
Through accidental and intentional introductions, the monk parakeet, native to South America, is now established in several parts of the United States. In Florida, it occurs in 21 of 67 counties. Monk parakeets build a bulky nest structure of sticks, and they often build on electric utility substations and support structures for distribution and transmission lines. This nesting activity is incompatible with reliable electric service because nest material creates short circuits that cause power outages. Nest removal by electric utility personnel is ongoing but provides only short-term relief, as birds readily rebuild their nests. In this study, we evaluated passive and active methods to trap monk parakeets, and we documented the effectiveness of trapping to reduce rates of nest rebuilding on distribution poles. At electric substations, we tested two passive trap designs: a drop-in style trap, and a walk-in style trap. Monk parakeets were wary of traps, however, and were not easily captured even with extensive pre-baiting and the use of decoy birds. At distribution poles, we actively trapped birds at 47 nest sites using specially designed nets placed over nest entrances at night while birds roosted. Birds were then caught as they flew out of the nests into the net. Capture success at individual nest sites ranged from 0 to 100% with an overall average of 51%. Of the 47 sites where birds were trapped at night, 43 nests were removed immediately or shortly after netting. Subsequent monitoring revealed that higher nest site capture rates resulted in slower rates of nest rebuilding. We conclude that while more research is needed to design an effective passive trapping system, monk parakeets can be readily trapped from distribution pole nests at night thereby enhancing nest removal efforts.