Pages

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Will Edgewater Parrots Have the Last Laugh?

I was out in Edgewater, New Jersey, today, and while the weather was too dark and brooding to take any photographs, I did notice that several of the nests torn down last week were already being rebuilt by the parrots. At the same time, community activists are working quietly behind the scenes to reform the New Jersey laws which stigmatize the monk parakeet as a "potentially dangerous species." I promise to provide more news about the Jersey parrots when it breaks. Also, please check out EdgewaterParrots.com for further updates.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Ballad of the New Jersey Parrots


Ballad of the New Jersey Parrots
(Sung to the tune of Dion's "Keep Away from Runaround Sue." The chords are: G - Em - C - D)

Here's my story, sad but true
Of the New Jersey parrots that we used to view
But the power company said they were pests
So they tore down every one of their nests...

Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Keep away from PSE&G!

Well, the New Jersey parrots were looking around
They said 'Edgewater's a pretty nice town
They've got robins and crows, and some ducks and geese
We can build us a home and live in some peace'

So the little green parrots from the Argentine
Built their nests way up in the power lines
But the power company said 'No Dice -
We don't care if you're fluffy and nice!'

BRIDGE:
(C - G - C - D)
Well the parrots are going to leave this town
If you keep on tearing their nests down
People, want to make you wise
Or you'll have nothin' - flying in the skies!

There's a moral to this story every bird should know
The rain may fall and the wind may blow
But the single most dangerous thing you'll ever see
Are the big white trucks from PSE&G!

Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Keep away from PSE&G!

Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Hey, hey - woe woe woe woe woe
Keep away from PSE&G!



Sorry, folks. Bruce Springsteen wasn't available.

For more news on the situation affecting the New Jersey parrots, please visit EdgewaterParrots.com, a site run by my pal and co-author Alison Evans-Fragale.

Monday, May 16, 2005

"Black Monday" for Edgewater Wild Parrots


The first PSE&G truck arrived promptly at 8:30.

I took a very early bus out to Edgewater today to serve as a witness and peaceful protester of the PSE&G nest teardowns of wild parrot nests. Because my camera is in Arizona right now (it's a long story), the only weapon I had at my disposal was my guitar, so I played mournful music during the destruction. Councilwoman Maureen Holtje did bring her camera, and she took the pictures below.

This was a very sad day for the wild parrots of Edgewater, and for those people who believe that they enhance life in that town. As I've written before, PSE&G can't be blamed for removing the nests from their poles, but the fact that these wild parrots enjoy absolutely no protection in New Jersey is, I believe, a major error that should be addressed.

These birds may provide challenges to us humans, but they should not be classed a "potentially dangerous species" with no rights at all. After all, these birds were "born in the USA," have been living with us for at least 30 years, and deserve a modicum of respect, especially because they have all of the great qualities we associate with the American character: they're industrious, loyal to each other, they're amazing little engineers, they coexist well with other native birds, and they just won't give up, even when the deck is stacked against them.


More PSE&G trucks assemble on Route 5, forming a formidable force against which the little avians could mount no credible defense.


Numerous eggs were taken and destroyed from this nest, on the north edge of Edgewater's "Parrot Park."


Eggs were also destroyed in this nest, on the west side of River Road. Some were either tossed or dropped on the ground.


PSE&G crews worked very quickly.


Nest debris on River Road. It took the wild parrots months to build this nest but only about five minutes for men to destroy it. All told, four nests were destroyed in the immediate vicinity of this photo; afterwards, the trucks left and made their way North. There were many wild parrot nests that run up River Road and I presume that they were all destroyed this morning.


Proud parents in a happier day (photo taken in April).


Fortunately, PSE&G is not allowed to touch Edgewater's "Big W" tree, which exists on protected land. It houses many wild parrots.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

In Search of The Wild Parrots of Marine Park

A correspondent in Brooklyn named Dawn was driving around in the Marine Park area of Brooklyn recently and she snapped several pictures of wild parrot nests. Although she doesn't recall their exact location, she believes they are sited on Avenue U.


This nest is comfy, given that it's so near a warm transformer, but it's probably not the wisest location choice, given that such a nest can cause this transformer to overheat if the nest blocks its vents. Might it be possible to design a transformer whose vents are not vulnerable to nest-blockage?


The Sheepshead Bay wild parrots have not been well-documented, and it is my intention to organize a fact-finding mission in the near future. If you'd like to come along, please send me e-mail. In the meantime, these two photographs provide irrefutable proof that "the wild ones" have set up camp in Marine Park.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Jersey Parrots Face Tough Week Ahead


This busy nest on River Road will likely be removed next week.

The Brooklyn Parrots' brethren to the west, the parrots of Edgewater, New Jersey, face a tough week ahead, because PSE&G will begin teardowns of a number of their nests next Monday.

Weather permitting, PSE&G work crews will begin removing the nests on Monday, 5/16. They will be starting at 8:30 AM, at the corner of Route 5 & River Road. I am not sure how far North the removals will go - there are quite a few nests along River Road. Attendees will include two Edgewater police officers, PSE&G workers and reps, NJDEP, and at least one local political leader. It's likely some local media will be there as well. Edgewater's own Allison Evans-Fragale, the NJ birds' great advocate, is travelling, so I'm not sure she'll be able to be there, although I know she will try very hard to do so.

It's sad to see these nests go, but there's a silver lining to this cloud: the Edgewater parrot colony may actually be better off if these removals happen now, rather than in June or July. There are likely no eggs nor young in the nests right now, the weather is favorable, there is plenty of food and plenty of time to rebuild before winter.

My biggest worry about these birds being nestless over the next few months is their increased exposure to Red-Tailed hawks. There are many such predators living in the cliffs and high-rises above Edgewater, and I've personally witnessed some very scary strafing runs by Red-Tails against the parrots. It would be unfortunate if the colony is decimated by Pale Male and Lola's progeny due to a lack of protection. (Note: I'm not anti-hawk - in fact, I'm a former Pale Male partisan, but I do wish these raptors would stay away from the parrots, at least for the next few months while they're vulnerable).

Only time will tell whether PSE&G's nest removals lead to an appreciable decline in Edgewater's wild parrot population. One hopes that the parrots will simply take their lumps this week, rebuild expeditiously, and make maximally effective use of their unique defensive "sentinel" defenses to thwart the raptors.

For what it's worth, PSE&G has been very forthright, open, and cooperative in terms of meeting repeatedly with New Jersey residents (and even outsiders from Brooklyn such as myself!) who care about these birds. Its representatives have expressed a sincere willingness to try to devise solutions and practices that will better accomodate the interests of avians and humans in the future. Nobody's served by demonizing either the power company or these charming birds.

Steve Baldwin
Webmaster, BrooklynParrots.com

Sunday, May 08, 2005

More Photos from Edgewater

Note 12/08/06: For photos of the Edgewater parrots I've taken since this article was published, please see:

The Big Flock
Wild Parrots in New Jersey: Some Recent Photos
Wild Parrots Invading New Jersey Beaches


Another excursion to Edgewater, New Jersey, in late April provided more samples of this gentle hamlet's bird life. While this town's thriving population of wild parrots provided the main attraction (at least to this observer), Edgewater's legendary "mystery goose" provided added intrigue to the trip.


A wild parrot in Edgewater's "Big W" tree takes off with a long twig in his beak.


Two wild parrots keep warm on a cool evening by puffing up.


A foraging pair in Edgewater's Veteran Park enjoy munching on blossoms blown from a nearby tree.


A flight of Canada geese fly over Edgewater's enormous American flag.


An unusual hybrid goose is often present in Edgewater's Veterans' Park. Once ostracized by his fellow geese, this orange-footed non conformist recently acquired a girl friend (seen to the right) and is now very happy.


Alison Evans-Fragale, my co-author and founder of EdgewaterParrots.com, befriended the hybrid goose many months ago, and provided considerable moral support for him during the grim time when he was being shunned by the other geese for being "different."


Cured of his melencholy, the Edgewater hybrid goose has recently become quite an athletic extrovert.


"I know you've come to photograph the wild parrots - but I'm the real glamour bird here!"


Just yards from the hybrid goose, the Edgewater parrots cavort.


...and cavort.


As evening draws near, a visitor to Edgewater's "Big W" tree bids farewell to her fellows before returning to her own nest on River Road.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Con Ed Nest Teardown 5/3/05

Con Ed Nest Teardowns in Brooklyn

Early this morning, a concerned resident of Brooklyn witnessed Con Edison contractors tearing down a mid-sized wild parrot nest built on a pole supporting a power transformer. This action appears to signal the opening salvo in the annual battle between New York City's utility company and the wild parrots of Brooklyn.

I spoke to Ms. Antonia Yuille, Con Ed's public affairs director for Brooklyn this afternoon, and she provided me some details regarding the teardown.

This nest tear down is not part of some new eradication plan by Con Ed. Con Ed's policy is very much "hands off" when it comes to nests built by the wild parrots, unless they directly impact on public safety, employee safety, or the ability of the utility to deliver essential services. According to Ms. Yuille, "if it's not smoking we don't touch them. This is why you see so many nests out there."

Ms. Yuille also told me that the nest in question, situated on East 33rd Street between Fillmore and Ave R, appears to have caused a recent power loss in the last several weeks, which explains why it was targeted for removal.

While it is sad to witness the destruction of what appears to be a worthy, sturdy nest, it is probably better that Con Ed perform this removal now, while it is still too early in the breeding season for there to be any young in the nest.

The concerned resident who made the report and took these photographs, whose name is William, reports that the birds, after much anxious squawking this morning, appear to have already commenced rebuilding efforts.


Con Edison Wild Parrot Nest Tear Down, East 33rd Street Between Fillmore and Avenue R, May 3, 2005.


Con Ed Nest Teardown 5/3/05.


A bystander to Wild Parrot Nest Tear Down, 5/3/05.


Equipment used in the teardown.


The de-nested utility pole.


Parrots begin assessing functional requirements for a new nest.


Nest rebuilding efforts begin a few minutes after utility trucks leave.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Red Hook Parrots

The Red Hook parrots are the Northernmost colony in Brooklyn, and their existence has not to date been well documented. Like the Brooklyn College parrots, they live in a large stadium light pole above an athletic field approximately 30 feet from the park entrance at the intersection of Bay and Henry Streets.

The park belongs to New York City, whose Parks Department has long had an anti-parrot policy in place. Pursuant to this policy, the nests were destroyed in 2004, but were rebuilt by the parrots.

The Red Hook parrots are most likely a satellite of the colony at Greenwood Cemetery, itself a satellite of the main source colony at Brooklyn College. I hope to have more info and pictures on this colony soon.