Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JetBlue's Shoo Bird Has It Right...

Been tweeting today with the nice folks over at JetBlue (wanted to let them know that even though they're not the largest airline, they're the #1 U.S. Airline on Twitter). Turns out that JetBlue is running a pretty cool new viral video campaign starring a smart pigeon named "Shoo." Nice work, JetBlue!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari: Saturday, May 3, 2014

Attention URBAN PARROT WATCHERS: the next Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari is on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at 11 AM. Please gather at Brooklyn College's Hillel Gate, which is at the intersection of Hillel Place and Campus Road.

For more info, please view: When is the Next Wild Parrot Safari?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Wild Parrots of Public Lot 1715

On Sunday, I visited Green-Wood Cemetery, home to a large colony of Monk Parakeets (AKA Quaker Parrots). The parrots were very active on this beautiful Sunday, with temperatures in the 50s, particularly along the west side of the cemetery, in Public Lot 1715. The lot is situated under several large trees that the parrots use both for food and nest-building materials.

Green-Wood Cemetery Public Lot 1715 is a good place to watch for wild parrots. 

Public Lot 1715 is at the western edge of the cemetery, close to 5th Avenue.

Myiopsitta Monachus could be observed on the grounds.

The birds gathered for many minutes, and much chattering was observed.
The parrots were on the ground for about 10 minutes at Public Lot 1715.

Above Public Lot 15 are a number of trees with leaf buds attractive to the parrots. 

The parrots spent a long time nibbling on leaf buds above Public Lot 1715.

The Monk Parakeets were observed consuming grass in the cemetery.

Green-Wood Cemetery's Monk Parakeets have a large communal nest at the main gate.

Monk Parakeets and Railroad Development in Argentina

Because I’m a fan of both wild parrots and railroads, I was always hoping there was some hidden link between them. 
In an abstract to a document first published online on February 5, 2014 entitled Land-use changes and monk parakeet expansion in the Pampas grasslands of ArgentinaEnrique H. Bucher and Rosana M. AramburĂș make reference to the fact that the expansion of the Monk Parakeet (AKA Quaker Parrot) in its native land of Argentina was aided by railroad development post-1850, with railway corridors serving as “expansion stepping stones” for the Monk Parakeet’s steady march from the rural Pampas into cities. 

It’s easy to imagine railroad lines – with their telegraph poles, signal towers, and other steel and wood infrastructure -- serving as ideal nesting platforms for the monks. Colonies of monk parakeets could have easily sprouted up and daisy-chained their way across the expanding linear corridor, which by 1920 had stretched to 40,000 kilometers.

Which is not to say that building nests around railway lines is a good idea. Recently, in Maplewood, New Jersey, a Monk Parakeet’snest was found on (and removed from) a 25,000 power distribution line above an operating commuter railway line before damage to either nest or schedule could be done. Other New Jersey Monk Parakeets have built large nests under railroad bridges near a main CSX main freight line..

It's rare to find Monk Parakeets in proximity to any railroad lines in Brooklyn. A popular legend has it that a pair of monks attempted to build a nest under the F-line elevated line years ago, but if this ever happened the nest was removed by the MTA before its existence was documented.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Photos From April 2014 Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari

Thanks to everyone who attended today's Safari. Here are some photos of what we saw while looking for Brooklyn's tribes of wild Quaker Parrots. Photo credit: Jule Hanlon.

Our next Safari will be in May - please join us!

We had a small, multi-generational group of urban parrot watchers today.

One of Brooklyn's very vocal Mockingbirds greeted us as we made our way to
Brooklyn College's Wild Parrot "Hot Spot."

As usual, we heard the parrots before we could see them.

Fortunately, there were steel icons guiding our way to the parrots.

We talked about the leaf buds that keep the parrots alive in the wintertime.
Soon we made our way to a place where the parrots could be seen.
The parrots seemed to be happy that the weather in New York is now warmer. 

We inspected their nests for sign of Winter storm damage. We didn't see any.
Here's a photo of the same nest taken in January. While these nests are well-insulated, it still must have been
very cold in there.

Mating season is in high gear for the parrots, so the birds were unusually "frisky."

We are amazed that so many parrots survived what has been one of the cruelest winters in the history of New York.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Treacherous NY Winter Fails to Dislodge Wild Parrots From Brooklyn

Today was the first nice Saturday in a long time. But I almost dreaded going outside, because I have neither seen nor heard from Brooklyn's wild parrots for several months. I've seen sparrows, starlings, crows, plenty of gulls, and a few raptors, and all of them looked miserable.

Because my thinking tends toward the catastrophic, I've been worried that this past winter might be just too much for the birds. Were this to be the case, I might as well leave Brooklyn -- after all, I came here because of the parrots.

But low and behold, around five o'clock, in Bay Ridge, I heard what sounded like a machine with sand in its gears. It was, of course, a bunch of parrots having an argument. I looked up and one of the parrots flew right down and landed next to me on a metal railing.

The parrot didn't say anything -- he just gave me one of those stern Brooklyn looks that indicated "we've been here all the time, buddy -- where the heck have YOU been?" Then he flew off and went back to work.

These parrots aren't going anywhere.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Gizmo The Quaker Parrot, Seized in Pennsylvania, Comes Home After Court Battle

This is not an actual photo of Gizmo,
but he looks a lot like this bird.
Remember Gizmo -- the Quaker Parrot seized by officials from the Pennsylvania Game Commission? We wrote about Gizmo and his owner Faith Faye Good in September, after she sued the Game Commission for confiscating Gizmo and transferring him to a state facility. Well, Gizmo is finally home -- after a successful court battle and the payment of a $500 fine. Quaker Parrots are illegal in Pennsylvania, but Ms. Good acquired the bird legally, and it's great to learn that Gizmo is back where he belongs. The state will not allow Gizmo to mate, or leave Ms. Good's home, but this is much a happier resolution than many had foreseen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Saving The World's Unlikeliest Bird From Extinction

Great article today in The Independent about the Kakapo -- New Zealand's legendary, flightless, ultra-heavy, Dr. Suess-like parrot species that's fighting a battle against extinction. There's something inspiring about a bunch of humans -- including the genius who decided to repair a crushed Kakapo egg with tape and glue to save the prized chick within -- joining forces to keep this strange, charming creature protected from annihilation.

Stories like this can lead me to believe -- even though it flies in the face of so much evidence -- that we humans may have a chance too.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Grumpy Cat Declines in Internet Influence

Data Source: Google Trends
New data published by digital marketing firm Didit tracks the decline and fall of Grumpy Cat -- last year's biggest feline phenomenon. According to the data -- drawn from Alexa and Google Trends -- Grumpy Cat's Internet-based popularity peaked in late 2012, and while significant traffic bounces caused by major media attention happened in the ensuing months,visibility indications continue to slope downward through 2014.

Data Source: Alexa.com
Grumpy Cat will likely remain marginally popular -- at least with die-hard humans who find the cat irresistible. But Grumpy Cat is stuck with the fact that he's a feline, and felines have not competed well in the past 12 months with dogs and cats in terms of Internet awareness. This appears to be a "long term secular trend," perhaps stimulated by the widespread adoption of bird-oriented mobile apps such as Angry Birds and Flappy Birds.

Data Source: Google Trends

Friday, February 28, 2014

Parrot Names Killer

You can't make this up -- it's from the Daily Telegraph. Apparently, when the husband of a murdered Indian woman read a list of suspects to the departed's pet parrot, the parrot screamed out "he's the killer" when one of the names was read. Police used this lead to round up the perp, who confessed to the dastardly deed. According to the local police superintendent.“We got a lot of help from the parrot to zero in on the murderer.”