Breaking News: Wild Quaker Parrots Invade Manhattan!
Yesterday, I talked to a woman who volunteers in New York's Riverside who claims to have definitely heard a group of wild parrots in the park on repeated occasions for the last month. Combined with two earlier reports from reliable sources, I am convinced that there are now one or more Quaker Parrot pairs in this area, although I have not been able to locate the nest(s).
Quaker Parrots have come and gone on the island of Manhattan. The appearance of myiopsitta monachus, AKA the Quaker Parrot, in Central Park, is old news. In the 1970's several attempted to establish a claw hold there, but were removed by Park Officials. The fear was that the parrots might take over the park, a place where a remarkable diversity of bird life was observed on each Audubon bird count.
There have been rumored sightings of wild parrots by the Cloisters, and one of them is especially fantastic: the claim that all of the wild parrots in the Northeast gather on a certain day in May to discuss region-wide strategy. They then disperse, to the Bronx, New Jersey, Brooklyn, and up the coast along the Sound, through New Rochelle, Greenwich, and up to Connecticut and even Rhode Island. It's a nice story, and it's also likely a far fetch from truth.
In 2000 or 2001, a nesting pair was sighted in lower Manhattan in the tower of Trinity Church, but the birds were wiped out in the 9/11/2001 attacks. A photograph is said to exist documenting their attempt to rebuild. No further sightings of these birds were ever made, and they are presumed lost.
I've always thought that the chances of Quakers surviving in Manhattan for very long was very low. Central Park has too many predators (mainly hawks) to make a parrot stay very pleasant for very long. There are very few good grassy areas to forage on. Nesting opportunities are limited: under outside-mounted air conditioners, unlike their outer borough brethren, which have a choice of stadium light and power transmission poles that make building large colonial nests easier. Air conditioner nests are only good for a 1-family, not a 9-family nest, but the quakers are resourceful, and there's nothing to stop them from attempting to establish multiple 1-family nests under multiple air conditioners affixed to Riverside Drive apartment buildings.
The fact that a family of wild quaker parrots is nesting on the Upper West Side is, I think, a great thing. Still, there are many worries associated with this development. If they're nesting under an air conditioner, whose air conditioner is it? What will the management do? The good news is that there is plenty to eat in Riverside park: many good trees bearing nuts, berries, leaf buds, and enough dog-free grass to safely forage in. But if their nest is removed between now and next March, the birds will surely die. Once the nest is located, and the disposition of the apartment owner and/or co-op board toward them is known, a safer prediction on the fate of these birds can be made.
Will the Manhattan parrots make it through their first winter? Stay tuned.
Labels: Manhattan Parrots