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The Monk Parakeets of White Rock Lake

Submitted by on February 5, 2010 – 9:46 pm9 Comments

White Rock Lake was originally developed as a source of drinking water for the City of Dallas in 1911. It was created by the damming of White Rock Creek. It was not the City’s first reservoir; Bachman Lake was created in 1897. The levee, dam and pumphouse that were constructed can be seen here from the opposite side of the lake. This photograph was taken by me yesterday from the bike trail that parallels the 8200 block of Garland Rd.:

Here is a closer shot from the same spot:


Now, about the birds. There is a TU Electric tranformer station behind the old Dallas Water Works Building, shown here:

This particular transformer station was apparently ground-zero here in Dallas for the invasion of these non-native, invasive little monsters.

Cute, huh? Who doesn’t like a little green parakeet? Well, TU Electric, that’s who….at least initially. It seems that most electrical providers have had to deal with these birds, the descendants of escaped pets, because the little fellows love to make their nests in electrical transformers. In the beginning (approximately twenty years ago), TU Electric wanted these birds gone, and wanted their nests gone. After the fairly predictable outcry from the bird-loving public, and some research by TU Electric, it was discovered that the birds and the electrical company can co-exist. Here is one of their big old nests that these little guys constantly work on and maintain:

This particular electrical station can be seen from the bike trail, but the best views are seen by entering Tokalon Park from the intersection of the 2800 block of Lawther Dr. and the end of White Rock Rd. From that intersection, you can bike or drive under the bike trail, where you will see the back of the afore-mentioned Dallas Water Works.

For many years, this building was abandoned and almost in ruins. When I was growing up in the area, it was a place to bring girls on dates, or a place to drink beer and climb all over the ruins. It was border-line scary at night. Since that time, however, the City of Dallas restored it and the building now houses the Dallas Water Utilities administration. They’ve really done a good job of cleaning the whole area up, planting native vegetation and creating hiking/birding trails through the remarkably dense woods.

The bottom line: these birds are here to stay. They are, as I stated above, non-native and invasive. I’ve heard that they can strip down a fruit tree in no time at all. Generally, though, they don’t bother other birds or animals. They compete for food, but so do English Sparrows, another non-native food hog, and who cares about sparrows? Nobody. People care about parrots and parakeets because they’re cute. They walk around like little busy-bodies all the time, squawking and making a racket, but they’re fun to watch. I take people down there all the time to show them the birds. Everybody always loves it, especially kids.

I mean, look at this little guy. He’s got his claw on that big bolt! What the heck is he thinking? Is he trying to take this joint down? You can begin to understand the concerns of the power company with one look at this little miscreant:

Finally, a photo that has a bicycle in it. My bike is on the section of the trail where you can see these birds. I was commuting yesterday from my house to my office when I stopped to take these photos. I can use a good size section of the bike trail at White Rock Lake on my commute from my house in Casa Linda to my Lakewood office, and for that I feel fortunate.

This is my 1991 Bianchi Sika mountain bike. It has been converted to a commuter bike. This ride was my first really long ride on the bike, and it performed well.

These parakeets are just one example of the many reasons to head out to White Rock Lake and enjoy the crown-jewel of the City of Dallas park system. White Rock Lake Park, at approximately 2100 acres, is several hundred acres larger than Central Park in New York City.

Now, if the City of Dallas would just start selling cheeseburgers and ice-cold beers out here, I’d really have something to write about………..

-Hubbard

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Michael W. Hubbard

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