Harold Washington, Chicago's first African American mayor, lived across the street from one of the city's best-known parakeet colonies and called them a "good luck talisman." After he died in 1987, the USDA tried to remove the birds, but local residents threatened a lawsuit.

The parakeets stayed but their numbers have dwindled from a peak of about 400 birds to just 30 today. Some of the them have dispersed to greener areas in the suburbs, although the largest colony is now under the Skyway bridge connecting Illinois to Indiana. There are also signs of a nationwide decline in all birds, perhaps due to a disease or parasite

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