Friday, April 14, 2006

Breaking News: Wild Conures Sighted in Queens

A wild mitered conure in a Queens, NY cherry tree
A wild conure in a Queens cherry tree, April 9, 2006. Photo credit: Kathy Forrestal.

This past Thursday morning, I received email from Queens resident Jackie Forrestal, who reported that several wild parrots appeared in her neighborhood, which is just to the West of St. John's University. The parrots, which show up "like clockwork" each Spring to munch on a cherry tree located at 82-12 166th Street, appear to be mitered conures: very similar to the famous birds featured in the film, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

While the existence of flocks of wild monk parrots in the NYC area is well-documented, practically nothing is known about any flocks of wild conures residing in the city. Unlike monk parrots, these conures do not come from parts of the world where brutal winters are common. How do they survive the winters in New York? Where do they nest (unlike monk parrots, conures do not build protective stick nests)? What do they eat? How many of them are there in Queens and where did they come from?

I am grateful to Ms. Forrestal for this exciting information and to her daughter Kathy, who took the pictures of the conures on this page. If you can shed any light on this incredible urban wildlife mystery story, please send email to steve@brooklynparrots.com


A wild conure in a Queens cherry tree, April 9, 2006. Photo credit: Kathy Forrestal.

Monday, April 03, 2006

In Brooklyn, Love Is In The Air!


A pair of amorous parrots (left) carries on without any regard to the stares that such conduct attracts from other avian observers.


With March Madness behind them, the wild monk parrots of New York City are turning their attention to the serious business of creating their next generation. The actual intimacies required to bring about such a result are conducted within the relative privacy of the rooms within their massive parrot condominia, yet it is obvious from their generally affectionate behavior that the Love Urge is already upon them, and that with any luck at all, eggs will soon be present within such chambers, attended to by the female whose duties, monk parrot experts insist, are shared by other family members, and including the male (anyone who saw the wonderful film, March of the Penguins, will be unsurprised to learn that fatherhood is taken seriously by many birds).

Much work and luck is required before the egg yields a baby, and the fledgling becomes a young Brooklyn parrot capable of negotiating the hazards of living within this rough-and-tumble borough. There are hungry crows which would love to devour a tasty parrot eggs, hungry hawks and falcons which would love to take advantage of the neophyte parrot's first clumsy "first flight," and other hazards that can quickly end this young life in a moment. There will be joy but there may also be pain, and this drama will all play itself out in the next few months, as people pass obliviously below, their mechanized iPod-delivered music shielding them from the life-and-death struggles played out above them.

For now, let us pause at the moment where it all begins: in a kiss between parrots, which in this case occurs high above Brooklyn's Avenue I, on a high-tension wire.