Austin Energy changing controversial Monk Parakeet nest removal process

Austin Energy and the Travis Audubon Society have teamed up to develop a new Monk Parakeet nest removal process. This comes after public outcry about Austin Energy killing baby birds while taking nests down from utility poles and transformers. 

Although they are not native to Austin, Monk Parakeets have made a home for themselves here. “The Monk Parakeet has zero protections in the State of Texas,” said Jordan Price with the Travis Audubon Society. 

However, their large nests, typically built on utility poles and transformers, can sometimes lead to fires and electrical service interruptions.

Austin Energy said in order to keep the public safe and their services running smoothly, the nests must sometimes be removed.

Last week, Austin Energy described the current removal process they had been using. “We take an eight foot pole, we remove the nest and pull it to the ground,” said Robert Cullick, spokesman for Austin Energy.

Eggs or baby birds inside the nest were killed during that process and that's why the Travis Audubon Society encouraged Austin Energy to find another way.

The utility company has since agreed to work with Travis Audubon to do just that.

“Austin Energy reached out to us on Monday and told us that they wanted to partner with us to develop a holistic approach to Monk Parakeet nest removal,” Price said. 

Austin Energy said they already leave the majority of nests alone and this year’s Monk Parakeet breeding season is coming to a close.
The goal is to develop a new process before it starts back up in April of next year.

“We're going to create that program together. We're going to bring in some wildlife biologists with PhDs who have ample years of experience working with Monk Parakeets. We'll also reach out to other energy companies, other utilities, across the United States and see what they've developed as their best practices,” said Price.

However, in the meantime Austin Energy said in a statement:

"Right now we have to continue the work we are doing, but we are working with the Travis Audubon Society on ways we can change the process in the future."

Although the mystery of how Monk Parakeets ended up in the Austin area remains, the first time they were spotted here dates back to the 1970s.