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).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Animal Planet Video Report on Brooklyn Parrots Now Online

The folks from Loftin Productions have uploaded a copy of the segment in which the Brooklyn Parrots appeared. Loftin supplied much of the footage featured in this charming clip, whose running time is 4:41. The parrots are of course the stars, but also featured are Brooklyn College's Eleanor Miele and Karla Ferraro, Greenwood Cemetery's Ken Taylor, and myself. Enjoy - we got very lucky that day and some got great shots of the birds cavorting in the sunshine!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Photo-Essay: Brooklyn's 8th Avenue Parrots

A wild parrot on Brooklyn's 8th Avenue soaks up some mid-February sunshine
On a chilly morning in February, a bird from the "8th Avenue Gang" soaks up some sunshine.

Brooklyn's 8th Avenue Parrots are a small but hardy crew of monks who live less than 100 yards from the Gowanas Expressway at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 72nd Street. They live in a classical pole nest built under a Con Ed transformer sited in a tiny park called Anthony Mondello Triangle.

The 8th Avenue Parrots are often active in the late morning, gathering twigs for nest construction from the trees planted along the Gowanus Expressway. But sometimes they unaccountably vanish. Often, they spend time visiting their relatives to the North based in Leif Ericson Park.

As we've documented elsewhere on this site, it's a fact that Brooklyn Parrots love pizza, so I found it less than coincidental that these parrots decided to build their nest across the street from an Italian restaurant.

How long have the 8th Avenue Parrots been on the scene? According to a friendly employee of the restaurant, "at least five years." Where did they come from? My guess is that they are a spin-off "satellite" of the main wild parrot colony in Leif Ericson Park.

Without further ado, here are some photos of the 8th Avenue Parrots taken in February, 2006. Please click on any image for an expanded view.

The pole nest on 8th Avenue in which the wild parrots live
The 8th Avenue Parrots live in a classic pole-nest chosen by the birds because of the warmth given off by its transformer. This view is looking West; the trees at the rear of this view are planted along the Gowanas Expressway.

A parrot flying with a twig in his beak
The best place to get action shots of the 8th Avenue Parrots is actually on 7th Avenue, directly below the trees used by the parrots to provide construction materials. But be very careful: cars often speed down this strip and there's no sidewalk to offer a photographer much protection.

Monk parakeet flying with twig in beak
An 8th Avenue Parrot glides into the pole nest with a good looking thorny twig in his beak.

Quaker parrot weaving twig into nest on 8th Avenue
A moment later, he's working the twig into the nest structure.

A quaker parrot glides into an 8th Avenue nest with a twig
Another bird comes in with another twig. Watching these little birds work is an inspiring experieence.

A wild parrot struggles mightily with a thorny twig on a nest construction assignment
Heave Ho!

Two monk parrots survey their workmanship on the 8th Avenue nest
Many beaks make light the work on 8th Avenue.

Two monk parrots snuggle after a long work session on 8th Avenue
But the 8th Avenue Parrots pace themselves, and are more than willing to take a short snuggle break to add variety to their long workdays.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Joy of Shooting Birds

Shorty: Brooklyn Parrots official mascotAlthough I don't always agree with the Audubon Society, I'm a proud member of its New York Chapter. Once a year, I participate in Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count. Interestingly, this tradition owes its origin to another tradition enjoyed by many Americans a hundred or so years ago: on Christmas Day, the fun thing to do after an early dinner was to go out and massacre birds. The following is reprinted from one of Audubon's sites:

Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt": They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations.

Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count.


Which brings me to this whole Dick Cheney bird-shooting business. As everybody knows, the VP went out last Saturday, and instead of killing some quails, nearly killed a man with an errant blast of birdshot from his 28-gauge shotgun.

Let's skip the political sniping about Cheney for a moment (political blogs do it much better than I do) and talk seriously about bird-hunting. Frankly, I enjoy bird hunting, specifically wild parrot hunting because, I suppose, it harnasses my primeval instincts and puts me in the moment like no other sport can.

Each time I go out to shoot birds, alone or in a friendly group, the tactical terrain is different: sometimes the shooting conditions are perfect, but the birds aren't there. Sometimes the conditions are terrible, but the quarry is perfectly positioned. Sometimes everything is perfect, but my equipment malfunctions. Once in a while -- and it's truly an adrenaline-laced peak experience that's like no other -- everything comes together and Whammo: I get my perfect shot.

The only real difference between what I do and what people like Dick Cheney do for fun is my choice of weaponry: I use a camera, not a gun.

And I'd like to think that some of the Americans who hunt for fun, because it really is a great hobby, could learn from this incident, and the example of Frank Chapman, who taught America that counting can be as much fun as killing, that you can have just as much fun with a Nikon and a notepad as you can with a loaded shotgun.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

New Jersey Wild Parrots Need Your Help!

New Jersey Monk Parakeets conversing about the issues of the dayThe feathered cousins of the Brooklyn parrots who live across the river could use your help this week. A bill has been introduced to decriminalize them in NJ, whose antiquated laws claim that they are a "dangerous pest." Please write a letter supporting NJ Bill # A1237.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wild Connecticut Parrots Take Up Defensive Positions in "Monk Bunkers"

Wild parrot gunner stands at the ready by his turret-mounted 9-mm cannon
A wild monk parrot in Connecticut peers out of his "monk bunker," scanning the distant horizon for any sign of United Illuminating's work crews. Photo credit: Marc Johnson

For the moment, United Illuminating has abandoned its parrot-eradication campaign in Connecticut, after being confronted by public protests and a lawsuit filed by local activists.

But Connecticut's wild parrots aren't taking any chances, and several groups of birds have already taken up defensive positions in artificial nesting platforms, otherwise known as "Monk Bunkers," designed by FosterParrots.com's Marc Johnson and constructed by local Connecticut citizens.

A view of a West Haven backyard where multiple wild parrot monk bunkers have been erected by local citizens
A view of "Monk Bunker Alley" in West Haven. Photo credit: Marc Johnson

The first "Monk Bunker" to actually attract displaced parrots was, appropriately enough, sited on Julie Cook's property. Julie heroically stood up to the killing crews last November, was hauled off in handcuffs, and was only released after a video tape of her arrest proved that she was never read her Miranda rights.

Wild Quaker Parakeets in Connecticut working on their monk bunkers
A Quaker construction crew at work on the upper part of a "Monk Bunker." Photo credit: Marc Johnson

The success of Johnson's "Monk Bunkers" in attracting displaced parrots from power lines promises to greatly enhance the prospects of free-range monk parrots in the U.S.A. It also belies the claim made by power companies such as Florida Power and Light and United Illuminating that lethal parrot control methods are justified because there is no way to humanely convince the birds to abandon their positions in electrical infrastructure.

Wild Connecticut Quaker Parakeets in their Monk Bunkers
A Connectitut Monk brings in a fresh twig to refortify the lookout position of a "Monk Bunker" in West Haven. Photo credit: Marc Johnson

Monk Bunkers will be marketed to the public via a soon-to-be launched Web site, monkbunkers.com, and via a national radio ad campaign. A new 30-second radio spot for the Monk Bunkers is now online.

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