The beautiful Civil War-era gate to Greenwood Cemetery is spectacular in its own right; add vociferous parrots and you've got one of the most sublime, most surreal locales on the planet.
If you've been following this site, you know that I got interested in Monk Parrots after participating in what birders now call the "Great Hawk Nest Crisis of 2004" in which a bunch of billionaires decided to evict Pale Male and Lola
from their 5th Avenue perch. I met a lot of interesting people on the protest line, including one woman who insisted that Pale Male and Lola were in fact "spirit guides" who were guarding the Pharaoh's Tomb in the nearby Metropolitan Museum.
I thought this woman was a bit nuts (I mean, hey - they're just birds, albiet magnificent ones!) And I'm still not convinced that our avian friends are in fact the Eyes and Ears of Any Knowable Diety, or that when we talk to them, our words are being transmitted You Know Where. Or that parrots are capable of telepathy. Frankly, I'd prefer that we leave the Supernatural out of this, and just admire the fact that there are so many interesting birds living in our cities, study them if we're so disposed, and offer them kindness when they need our help. Monk Parrots perch on Greenwood Cemetery's Main Gate, May 7, 2006. Check out the two birds perched at the top - they bear a remarkable resemblence to Gothic cathedral gargolyes, but of course, they're not made of stone!
Still, there are moments when I feel a greater kinship to that wacky woman insisting on this "spirit guide" business than I ordinarily feel comfortable admitting. Take the situation at Greenwood Cemetery
, where the Monk Parrots have built elaborate, interwoven nests in, around and through the three spires comprising the beautiful gate. If you show up at the right time, you'll find them perched strategically on the structure, issuing undecodable pronouncements in a foreign tongue, looking amazingly like living, breathing, high-strung gargolyles.
I took this photo this morning -- one of the most beautiful, peaceful Spring days that NYC has yet been graced with this year. I found the Monk Parrots in an agitated, raucous caucus. What were they discussing with such impassioned intent? Are we sure that they are not aware that where they live is the exact site where the quotidian world and the Valhalla world of the spirit world intersect? Of all the places in the neighborhood to settle, can it be mere chance that made them decide that there is no better place to be a parrot than here, nestled deep within Brooklyn's gateway to Eternity?
"Nah" - I say. They're just birds, after all. But, on the other hand, we're just people, aren't we?
(P.S.: there are some good video sequences of the Greenwood Cemetery Parrots on the Animal Planet segment on the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn. Click here to view this video online
Labels: Greenwood-Cemetery, Greenwood-Cemetery Parrots