BrooklynParrots.com: A Web Site About the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn

Quaker Parrot Facts, lore, audio files, video clips, photos, pictures, photo comics, and other information about Brooklyn's flocks of wild Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets).

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Photo-Essay: The Wild Parrots of The Bronx!

Bronx wild parrots in flight
I've been following the wild parrots in Brooklyn for almost a year now, but only about a month ago did I learn that there are wild Quaker Parrots in the Bronx, so I made a trip up to see them.

These delightful birds live at the South corner of Pelham Bay Park, a beautiful park that's very convenient to public transportation (just take the #6 train to the end of the line: the park is just across the big highway).

I've done my best to learn how the wild parrots got to Pelham Bay Park, but their arrival is shrouded in even more mystery than that of their Brooklyn cousins.

From multiple conversations with local residents and e-mail correspondents, I pieced together several possible stories. The first one goes like this: back in 1998, a truck filled with parrots overturned and crashed on the Hutchinson River Parkway. Nine or ten birds survived the crash and found their way to Pelham Bay Park.

A second story cites a cave-in at an aviary at the Bronx Zoo which happened back in 2000 or so.

A third account, which comes from someone who has studied the flora and fauna of Pelham Bay Park since 1983, is perhaps more reliable. According to this source, the parrots have been living in the park since 1970: a time pre-dating the construction of the stadium pole lights. How they got there, however, is not known (although it is impossible not to note a certain coincidence: the distance from Pelham Bay Park to LaGuardia Airport is almost exactly the same distance that Brooklyn College is from JFK Airport. Which leaves open the possibility: might a shipping accident at LaGuardia be responsible for the parrots' release?)

However they got to the park, the parrots have been thriving, despite the presence of multiple predators such as Red-tailed Hawks and Merlins, which would naturally regard one of these green birds as a tasty meal.

Fortunately, human predators are in short supply. I've spoken to NYC Parks Department officials and have been told that there are no plans to remove the parrots or the parrot nests, which is great news! These charming birds are lucky to live in New York, and are widely admired by park goers and the nice folks who work in the Park. In the words of one jogger, "they rule!"

Without further ado, here are some pictures I took of the Wild Parrots of the Bronx (click on any photo to see an enlargement).

Bronx wild parrots at home in Pelham Bay Park
The baseball field where the parrots live looks ordinary from a distance, but take a good look at those light towers and open your ears: the park is teeming with wild parrots!

The parrots live in 75-foot tall stadium light towers
The light tower nests are strikingly similar to those in Brooklyn. Did these parrots arrive on our shores with blueprints of these structures or is "stadium light" simply ingrained in their DNA? Whatever the reason, these steel poles provide excellent support for large parrot condos housing up to 15 parrots.

The Bronx parrots spend a lot of time foraging on the field
There's plenty of action in the nests (rebuilding and renovating goes on constantly) but the real action is on the ground, where the parrots spend a lot of time foraging on any given afternoon.

Bronx parrots love the clover in the ball field
There's a lot to eat on the ground, including a special kind of clover which the Quakers can't get enough of.

The parrots do foraging goes all day
Foraging goes on for most of the day, although it isn't by any means a continuous activity. Usually one bold bird (the elder, perhaps?) will land on the ground first, followed by several others, and then the whole Quaker clan!

This wild parrot looks like he stepped right out of a James Thurber cartoon
The Bronx Parrots are stylish birds who seem to practice a unique brand of choreography.

Wild parrots flocking in Pelham Bay in the Bronx
They are especially beautiful in flight.

Wild parrots flocking in Pelham Bay Park, December 2005

Close up of two wild parrots in the Bronx
Some claim that the Bronx parrots are a bit standoffish to outsiders to whom they have not been properly introduced.

Close up of two wild parrots in the Bronx who are grooming each other
But these busy birds clearly have more important things to do - things like spending quality time with a mate - than to interact with human interlopers seeking face time.

A Bronx parrot, looking very Phat, perches in a tree in Pelham Bay Park
Some have commented that the Bronx Parrots are especially "Phat."

Phatness among the parrots is directly attributable to a diet heavy in acorns
Their "Phatness" can perhaps be explained by their rich diet, which includes plenty of acorns.


The tannin in acorns is considered by many authorities to be toxic to parrots, but it's clear that the Bronx Quakers aren't troubled by it. These are tough little birds!

Wild parrots in the Bronx taking an outdoor bath
Even on very cold days, the Bronx parrots are an especially fastidious lot, who practice good parrot hygiene. Here a bold bird, perhaps one of the elders, seeks out a small frozen puddle to take a bath in.

Wild parrots in the Bronx are especially fastidious about taking baths
His idea quickly takes hold among the other parrots, who join in.

Keeping clean is an essential part of being a wild Bronx parrot
Keeping clean is part of the Quaker ethos, even if it means getting a very cold tail.

The water that the parrots are bathing in is ice-cold, so they huddle together
The birds huddle together to offset the bracing effects of the frozen water on their tailfeathers.

Wild parrots crowding into a small puddle to take a group bath
Soon, a dozen birds are taking a cold one. Brrr!

Furious flapping accompanies a group bath of wild parrots in the Bronx, December 2005
The flapping is furious at these communal baths, and sometimes feathers get ruffled.

The wild Bronx parrots take to the air after a refreshing bath
Cleaned up and chilled out, the Bronx parrots take to the air.

Wild Bronx parrots flocking in the sun light
The Bronx parrots, splendid in flight, are lucky to be living in New York State, which is generally friendly to their exotic kind.

Pelham Bay Park boasts all kinds of wildlife, including wild parrots

Pelham Bay Park is a wonderful place, and the parrots are just one of its many attractions. For more information on Pelham Bay Park, visit the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Connecticut Wild Parrot Crisis: A Ray of Hope?

I received this e-mail from Donna Dwyer today. Donna has been tirelessly working to stop the mass killing of wild quaker parakeets in Connecticut. Again, folks: please, if you correspond with any of the folks in this message, please be civil and level-headed. Here is Donna's message:


There will be a meeting on Tuesday, Nov.29th involving a Connecticut legislator, DEP, United Illuminating and Audubon.

We must get out the word to these legislators in huge numbers that we want the KILLING to Stop! PLEASE Everyone CALL, the offices of your and other legislators in CT and tell them to STOP KILLING the QUAKERS!!!! We must let them know that the public is appalled. The meeting is Tuesday -- it has to be done ASAP. UI doesn't care it is a monopoly but legislators are ELECTED Let's bombard them with the demand that they stop this cruelty.

State Representative Richard Roy of Milford (860-240-8585, 800-842-8267) is working to try to help with the situation and will be at the meeting on Tuesday. Richard.Roy@cga.ct.gov

State Representative and Speaker of the House James Amann, also of Milford, will be at the meeting and helping from, what I understand (860-240-8500, 800-842-1902; Jim.Amann@cga.ct.gov

State Representative Paul Davis: he serves Milford, Orange, and West Haven. I do not know anything about his position on the issue (860-240-8585, 800-842-8267); Paul.Davis@cga.ct.gov

You can find your town Representative and State Senator here:
http://www.cga.ct.gov/maps/Townlist.asp

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Friday, November 18, 2005

You Can Help Stop The Killing of Wild Parrots in Connecticut


PLEASE, PLEASE HELP US!

Update 11/23/05: Monk Parakeets Plead for Homes, Lives (editorial in Connecticut Post)


If you care about free-range parrots in the USA, and the idea that they're now being killed en masse in Connecticut makes you heartsick, you can do something about it. Already, the media is starting to respond. This is only happening because people like you care and are willing to take action.

The first thing to do is sign our online petition. It only takes a minute to fill out. Now, take a look at the list of people below. Then, pick up the phone. Take a deep breath. Be friendly, be civil, be peaceful, be polite, but be firm. Tell these people you don't want wild parrots killed in Connecticut.

Please don't make threats or be crazy: yes, this is an emotional issue but it doesn't serve our cause to behave like nutburgers. These people aren't bad -- they're just misguided. So let them know that you don't like what they're doing, you're going to communicate your concern to anyone who will listen, including the press, elected leaders, humane groups, and religious organizations. Suggest to them the obvious: that there are humane alternatives that they haven't looked at. Call them now.

Al Carbone is the guy who's the PR rep for United Illuminating, the company that started this whole mad monk parakeet eradication campaign. You can reach Al at (203) 671-4421. Also, please call Al's boss, Nathaniel Woodson, Nat's at (203) 926-4637; his email is: nathaniel.woodson@uinet.com

Corey Slavitt is the gal at USDA who claims, for reasons that I can't fathom, that these killings are somehow "humane." USDA, not UI, is the entity actually gassing the parrots. You can reach Corey at (301) 734-8563. Also let Monty Chandler, of the USDA, know how you feel. Monty's at (413) 253-2403. His e-mail is Monte.D.Chandler@usda.gov; fax # is (413) 253-7577. You can also send feedback to the central office of the USDA using this form. Tell them that they should get out of the parrot-killing business, and focus on keeping our food supply safe.

Dennis Schain is the guy in the Connecticut DEPA who calls the monk parakeets "invasive," which means, I guess, that it's OK to kill them. You can reach Dennis at (860) 424-4117. Also, call the EPA's Dale May. Dale's at (860) 424-3011; Dale's email is: dale.may@po.state.ct.us; fax # is (860) 424-4078.

Now, onto the Connecticut Audubon Society. Milan Bull is it's head. Milan's not a bad guy: in fact, he's against the killings, likes the wild parrots, and doesn't think they deserve this cruelty. But I think he made a big mistake when he allowed the CT Audubon Society to in any way endorse this massacre. You can reach Milan at (203) 259-6305, ext 113 or via e-mail at: mbull@ctaudubon.org. The fax number is (203) 254-7673.

Remember, folks: be civil. You have truth, justice, and kindness on your side. Please make your point without being nasty -- it doesn't help.

For those of you in Connecticut, e-mail your legislator. Use this page to find your local rep. Tell them you're appalled by this cruelty, and that you're going to remember what they do come election time. Again, be civil.

Finally, call M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut's Governer, at (800) 406-1527. Her email is Governor.Rell@po.state.ct.us. Let her know that you object to government-sanctioned killings of wild parrots. Remind her that you love animals, you vote, and you're not alone!

For those with fax machines, here are the numbers for Connecticut's Senators and Congressional Reps in Washington:

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) Fax: 202-224-1083
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) Fax: 202-224-9750
Rep. John Larson (D-1) Fax: 202-225-1031
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-2) Fax: 202-225-4977
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3) Fax: 202-225-4890
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-4) Fax: 202-225-9629
Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-5) Fax: 202-225-4488

There's more you can do. Please circulate (forward) this item to your email friends. Instruct them to call their media, animal cruelty societies, bird groups, animal rights organizations, religious groups, animal and bird blogs, basically anyone who might care about this cruelty.

There's even more you can do. Sad to say, but without a celebrity, it's difficult really can't wake up the mainstream media in the U.S.A. Our cause could really benefit from having an A-level celebrity "Say No to Parrot Cruelty." Fortunately, there are some candidates: Ellen Degeneres is a known animal fan, so send her some e-mail. She's got a form on her Web site here: http://ellen.warnerbros.com/funstuff/onyourmind/.
Hillary Swank owns parrots, but unfortunately, there's no easy way to reach her. Doris Day runs the Doris Day Foundation, which is concerned with animal rights; you can email the Foundation at info@ddaf.org

Thanks VERY much for taking action today. Remember, the people who are killing America's wild parrots do so in the middle of the night, and do not want public exposure of their deeds. Publicity -- the sunshine of truth -- is the only thing that they fear, and it's our only hope of guiding them toward behaving humanely.

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Rally to Save the CT Quakers

(I received this tonight. It is a grassroots effort to thwart the massacre of wild parrots being conducted this week in the State of Connecticut. Please attend if you can.)

Friends of Animals is having a rally tonight to try to save the quakers. PLEASE try to come. It is starting at 8pm in West Haven at the Adams & People’s Bank parking lot at the corner of Campbell Avenue & Captain Thomas Blvd. The media has been notified. I know it is far to go, but this is really important.

Directions from Hartford:

I-91 S toward NEW HAVEN / N.Y. CITY.
Merge onto GOVERNOR JOHN DAVIS LODGE TURNPIKE / I-95 S via the exit on the LEFT.
Take EXIT 44 toward DOWNTOWN WEST HAVEN.
Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto KIMBERLY AVE / CT-122. Continue to follow CT-122.
Stay STRAIGHT to go onto ELM ST.
Turn LEFT onto WAGNER PL / CT-162.
Stay STRAIGHT to go onto KELSEY AVE.
Turn LEFT onto CAPTAIN THOMAS BLVD.

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Endangered CT Parakeets Need Lawyers!

I received this message tonight from Brenda Piper, a Quaker parrot activist. It is perhaps a ray of hope in
a horribly cruel situation in Connecticut
:

The Connecticut Association For Aviculture is mobilizing as we speak. I am a firm believer that most government officials, elected or appointed, as well as business people will only listen to residents of their state. This is why it is very very important that any and all CT residents turn out in force via phone and email to stop the carnage. If anyone on this list is a lawyer or knows a lawyer practicing in CT that would be willing to help us get an injunction to halt the utility, please have them contact me immediately at pipersparrots@comcast.net.

Thank you.
Brenda Piper
President
Connecticut Association For Aviculture

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Urban Parrot News from All Over

It's been a busy week at BrooklynParrots.com. On Satuday, we ran our biggest tour ever, and the antics of the Brooklyn Parrots, as well as the Brooklyn-based birdwatchers who've scientifically studied them, were recorded by Animal Planet for a forthcoming show.

Earlier in the week, our brother-in-feathers Mark Bittner, who's completely devoted to the feral parrots of San Francisco, turned up in the news. Apparently, several of the trees used by his beloved birds have been cut down, and Mark had to interpose himself between a surviving tree and a chainsaw! Go, Mark!

Over in Edgewater, NJ, Alison-Evans Fragale continues to rally support for her effort to decriminalize ownership of Monk Parakeets in the Garden State. If you'd like to help Alison and the Jersey Monks, please sign her petition!

We also learned this week about a fascinating project documenting the story of two free-flying macaws that have lived in the Netherlands for more than 25 years. Check out AraProject.nl: it's an image-rich, frequently updated site.

Finally, we've scheduled the next wild parrot trip of Brooklyn: it will happen, rain, shine or snow, on Saturday, December 3, 2005.

Regards,
Steve Baldwin
Webmaster, BrooklynParrots.com
646 361 2879

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Were You a Monk Parrot in a Past Life?


The BrooklynParrots.com Research Institute is proud to present our loyal readers with this highly scientific quiz whose purpose is to answer the question on everybody's minds, to wit, were you a monk parrot in a past life?

WERE YOU A MONK PARROT IN A PAST LIFE?

1. Your favorite leisure time activity is:
a. Watching TV
b. Surfing the Web
c. Reading
d. Obsessive basket-weaving

2. Your Street Name (if any) Is:
a. The Rock
b. Long Tall Sally
c. Sneaky Pete
d. Air Shark

3. Upon reaching adolescence, you:
a. Left home at the earliest possible moment
b. Wrote your memoirs
c. Asked for the keys to the car and were never seen again
d. Hung around for years, begging for freebies, until your parents literally threw you out of the nest

4. Your favorite movie is:
a. Star Wars
b. Breakfast at Tiffany's
c. Titanic
d. Birdman of Alcatraz

5. Your neighbors constantly complain about the racket you're making. What do you do?
a. Turn up the volume
b. Turn down the volume
c. Move to an apartment with thicker walls
d. Poop on them

6. When the weather gets cold, you:
a. Buy a new winter outfit
b. Fly down to Florida for a few weeks
c. Complain, complain, complain
d. Puff up your feathers, huddle with your comrades, and hope for the best

7. If somebody really wants to get under your skin, they insult you with the following perjorative term:
a. Slacker
b. Loser
c. No Goodnik
d. Invasive Species

8. You don't live in Manhattan because:
a. It's too expensive
b. It's too loud
c. Too much crime
d. The Parks Department ejected you and your relatives from Central Park and told you to never come back

9. Which vehicle most frightens you?
a. A police car
b. A hearse
c. An ambulance
d. A Utility Company truck

10. Your idea of a dream date is with:
a. Angelina Jolie
b. George Clooney
c. Rosemary Clooney
d. That cute new chick from Bay Ridge

11. Your Alma Mater is:
a. Brooklyn College
b. Yale
c. Fordham
d. The Institute for Biological Invasions

HOW TO SCORE YOUR RESULTS
If you indicated "d" on between 1-2 of these questions, you MAY have been a monk parrot in a prior life, but the odds are that you were something else. Indicating choice "d" on 4 to 6 questions means that you were definitely some sort of parrot, but not necessarily a monk. If you filled in "d" on 7 or more questions, well, you'd better come out to Brooklyn soon, because not only were you a monk parrot in a prior life, but you're one right now!

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