Searching for Chicago’s parrots

As we investigate the backstory behind Chicago’s wild parrots, we first have to find them. Have you spotted one?

August 16, 2013

Logan Jaffe

We heard the rumors.

Chicago’s wild parrots are known to flock around the South Side’s Washington Park. So, we didn’t just wander to the place with a video camera in hand. We went there to answer this question from Leanne Roddy from Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood:

What’s the story with the wild parrot population in the Chicago area?

While WBEZ web producer Tricia Bobeda waited for key interviews with Chicago’s parrot experts (yes, there’s at least one), we set out to find the birds on our own. We’d never promised Leanne a literal search, but she did agree to one during a weekend jaunt in Washington Park.

But first, we had to narrow down our search. If you haven’t been to Washington Park, you should know it’s huge. The "parrots" (technically, they're monk parakeets) could be anywhere. So, we started asking people around the park if they’d ever seen these elusive, crafty parrots and how we could see some, too.

They showed us there’s a rich history of local parrot sightings and, like any good legend, no one’s quite sure of the birds’ origins. Regardless, the fact that there are a variety of stories and suspicions plays into the larger question we hope to answer.

Have you ever seen these birds?

Remember: Our parrot hotline is up and running and ready for your call. If you see any of these little, green birds, please call us at 1-888-789-7752. Leave your name, phone number and where you saw them and we’ll add you to our parrot-sightings map:


So, if you see any curious-looking reporters with binoculars in your neighborhood, don’t be alarmed. Just tell us where the parrots are, and we’ll tell you what their story is in a couple weeks. Until then, be sure to flip through our reporter’s notebook to learn how this story’s played out from the start:

Logan Jaffe is a web and multimedia producer for Curious City and WBEZ. Follow her @loganjaffe.