There’s an intersection near the center of my town where I’m always glad to get stuck by a red light. It’s unremarkable, near a park, but by its more unlovely entrance, on flat land near some train tracks and less than a mile from a big highway.
My delight in this intersection comes from some of its residents: the monk parakeets that make their home there.
No, monk parakeets are not indigenous to New Jersey. They’re used to warmer weather. But they thrive in my small town. How? They’re smart as heck, that’s how. They’ve built elaborate nests near electric transformers, which heat up and keep them warm enough to make it through our cold and snowy winters.
I remember when I first moved in here there was a lot of hand-wringing about the nests. They’d cause fires, people said. (Nope). They’d fall on cars, others lamented. As if. Power company employees came and took them down, but soon the little twig structures would reemerge by the perseverance and hard work of the bright green birds. People said the birds would die off, unable to stand our winters, but still they flock and multiply.
No one is 100% sure where the birds came from. Some say they’re escaped pets that flocked together. Others say they sprang free from shipping containers from ports not too far from here on their way to pet stores. Whatever their origin, they’ve definitely made their home here, thriving under improbable circumstances, looking to fly free.
Whenever I see them, I’m reminded of the old Jurassic Park quote: “Life finds a way.” I love having the chance to be remember that, standing at a red light at an unlovely intersection in the middle of town.