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, December 28, 2006

Brooklyn's Wild Parrots in the Washington Post!

Brooklyn's Monk Parrots Featured in the Washington PostThe Washington Post's Michael Powell wrote a fine, funny article about the wild parrots of Brooklyn which appears in today's edition. After I read the story on the WaPo's Web site this morning, I ran out to Penn Station to pick up a hard copy, and saw that the story is on Page 2. Wow!

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Update on the Manhattan Monk Parrots

Four more monk parrots have been identified on Manhattan's Upper West Side by birder D. Bruce YoltonManhattan birder D. Bruce Yolton, who runs Urban Hawks, a great urban bird site, has posted some excellent photos of the Manhattan Monks taken this week. There are four of them living "in the block bounded by 77th, 78th, Amsterdam and Columbus." Add the two on 104th Street and the Manhattan Monk count adds up to six parrots.

The fact that there are more than two monk parrots on the Upper West Side favors the chance that these parrots might survive in the Big Apple. According to monk parrot expert Mattie Sue Athan, it's rare that isolated monk parrot pairs survive for very long in the wild. But six parrots might be able to hack it, given that they have a larger gene pool to draw on, more opportunities for cooperative nest building and cooperative breeding, and, most importantly for any creature seeking to live in Manhattan, more networking opportunities!

I officially dub this group of feral parrots "The Westies!"

For more on the Manhattan Monk Parrots, see:
Parrots Grab Manhattan Real Estate
"I'll Take Manhattan" (Wild Parrots on the Upper West Side)
Breaking News: Wild Parrots on Manhattan's Upper West Side Delighting Local Birders


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Field Notes: Wild New Jersey Parrots Crave Pizza

Two wild quaker parakeets in Edgewater New Jersey approach pizza distributed for them
Two wild parrots in New Jersey inspect pizza distributed in their environment.

Wild Quaker Parrot watchers have long known that the parrots that live in Brooklyn have a passion for pizza. Would the same unusual craving affect the parrots living in New Jersey? To answer this question, pizza was distributed in Edgewater's Parrot Park by researchers from both the Brooklyn Parrot Society and

(Click on any photo for an enlarged view).

A wild monk parakeet in Edgewater New Jersey enjoys a slice of pizza in Parrot Park
After the pizza was discovered, we noticed the same peculiar expression of bliss on the Jersey Parrots' faces that had been previously been observed in Brooklyn.

An argument between a monk parrot and a starling over a slice of pizza. Photo 1 of 3
The presence of pizza attracts a local starling, who is clearly interested in the distributed treat.

An argument between a monk parrot and a starling over a slice of pizza. Photo 2 of 3
A tug of war ensues between the starling and the parrot.

An argument between a monk parrot and a starling over a slice of pizza. Photo 3 of 3
The starling is clearly not pleased that this monk parrot's grip on the slice was stronger than his. Fortunately, there is plenty of pizza to go around for both birds.

Wild parrots in Edgewater New Jersey flock in Parrot Park
The pizza clearly had an energizing effect on the parrots.

A quaker parrot in Edgewater New Jersey moves a large twig into position at a pole nest
On this December day, the extra nutrition provided by pizza clearly made these parrots' construction chores easier. Here, a strong monk installs a heavy piece of lumber in a pole nest undergoing renovations.

Several wild parrots in Edgewater New Jersey work on a commmunal nest
Coordinated construction operations conducted by the parrots can be witnessed throughout the day in Edgewater.

A wild parrot in Edgewater New Jersey enjoys a slice of pizza
Watching these parrots wolf down the pizza made us hungry, so we went off and got some for ourselves.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Critics Squawk: Parrot Song "Strangely Compelling"

I'm glad to say that The Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots song has been getting heavy airplay on Quaker Parrot Music Channels. And the critics are squawking too: here are some recent reviews:

- "It reminds me a lot of a Leonard Cohen song, although I don't think that Leonard Cohen ever wrote a song about Quaker Parrots" -- Stacey, Kansas City

- "Great Beat" -- Deeb, Quebec

- "Lou Reed meets the Doors (did Jim Morrison have a pet parrot?)" - Orooney, Yonkers, NY

- "A strangely compelling ode to an invasive species. Definitely something that I'd never expect to hear on the radio" -- Holly, Rockaway Beach

- "Jim Morrison Meets Rick Moranis at the Audubon Society" -- FeatherButtz, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

You can listen to the song by clicking here. Or you can watch the shockwave presentation that plays the song and shows synchronized parrot pix!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

New York Times: Where Have All the Parrots Gone?

The New York Times yesterday posted a story in its Sunday Metro section about the disappearing parrots of South Brooklyn. The story, by reporter Jake Mooney, also mentions the fact that wild parrots have been lately and inexplicably appearing in Manhattan.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Nesting Notes: Parrots Investigating Canarsie's Sebago Canoe Club

Monk Parrots Investigating Sebago Canoe ClubBonnie, who runs the interesting Frogma Blog (Being the Continuing Adventures of a Woman and her Trusty Kayak in New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and Beyond), has a nice report (with photos) of the pair of Monks who appear to be assessing the real estate possibilities of a pole next to Brooklyn's famed Sebago Canoe Club.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Leaf Buds Provide Cold Weather Staple for Brooklyn Parrots

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 7 of 9
A Brooklyn Monk Parrot helps himself to a tasty leaf bud, 12/3/2006

In their pioneering 2000 study of Monk Parakeet behavior, University of Chicago researchers Jason M. South and Stephen Pruett-Jones delivered many important findings about the behavior and habits of the wild parrots which now inhabit many North American cities. One of the most interesting findings about the Chicago Parrots was that they appear to depend almost exclusively on human-supplied feed from bird feeders during the cold months.

Among the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn, leaf buds appear to provide a good source of cold weather nutrition. While it is certainly true that bird feeders are visited by the Brooklyn-based parrots, leaf buds (which are available even in January and February) appear are readily relied upon by our feathered friends to keep them going. Here are some photos of the Brooklyn birds helping themselves to these tasty buds this December: the location is Green-Wood Cemetery (click on any photo for an enlarged view).

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 6Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 6 of 9 of 9
Tasty and nutritious leaf buds are available to the Brooklyn Parrots even during the winter months. Reliance upon them , however, doesn't necessarily mean that these birds won't be showing up at your backyard bird feeder soon!

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 4 of 9
Although there is no fruit in this cherry tree right now, this hungry monk is literally cherry-picking this tree.

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 3 of 9
This wild parrot has a particularly intense expresson of enjoyment on his face.

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 2 of 9
A wild parrot, perched in a Cherry Tree, with Old Glory in the background. What could be more patriotic?

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 1 of 9
A wild monk parrot contemplates his next move, which appears to be directed towards a nearby leaf bud on the branch next to him.

Brooklyn wild quaker parakeets enjoying leaf buds at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo 5 of 9
"Hey!," the parrot on the right seems to say. "Those are MY leaf buds!" Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty buds to go around for all this Sunday in December.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Is Brooklyn "Obsessed" By Monk Parrots?

Comedienne Julie Klausner invited to discuss the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn at a live variety show on Sunday. I had a fine time and I'm glad that the wild parrots of Brooklyn have enough entertainment value to satisfy a sophisticated Manhattan audience! I also enjoyed meeting Julie, Jackie Clarke (Julie and Jackie have a hilarious comedy team), Tom Scharpling (who gave a very interesting presentation on Morton Downey), and Cintra Wilson (who hilariously acted out scenes from an over the top pot-boiler novel), plus other nice people at the show (especially Jack Szwergold, who brought the parrots to Julie's attention)-- it was a great night!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chicago Monk Parrots "Like a Big Motorcycle Gang?"

Monk Parrots in Chicago Likened to a Big Motorcycle GangA December 4th article in the Chicago Sun Times covers the Monk Parrots' spread from Hyde Park to surrounding suburbs. We've covered the Chicago birds before, and agree that they're broad-shouldered and robust. Still, we don't agree with the assertion that these parrots are in any way "like a big motorcycle gang" which, like the Hells Angels, cruises into town just to make trouble. From what we've seen in Brooklyn, these cute green parrots get along just fine with the local birds.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Photo Essay: The Big Flock

Wild Quaker Parrots in Flight, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 1 of 9
Wild parrots, wheeling in the sky, catch the sun in Edgewater, New Jersey, December 3rd, 2006. (Click on any photo for an enlarged view)

As you probably know, I'm partial to the wild parrots that live in Brooklyn, because they are the direct descendants of the original psitticine escapees that audaciously claimed freedom by busting out of Kennedy Airport in the 1960's. But I'm also a big fan of the wild parrots which live in New Jersey, and I'm consistently amazed whenever I'm out there, because New Jersey hosts what is most likely the biggest flock of wild parrots in the whole Northeast.

How big? Well, I counted at least 75 parrots flocking, and I'm sure there were more in the general vicinity. I mean, at times these parrots filled the whole sky (and you should have heard the shrieks: it sounded like a world ending (or beginning)!

Wild Quaker Parrots Foraging in Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 2 of 9
New Jersey's wild parrots like to hang out "on the waterfront." In this photo, at least 70 parrots forage just yards from the mighty Hudson River.

Wild Quaker Parrots in Flight, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 3 of 9
Sometimes, you'll find so many parrots settling in a small tree that the tree seems to bend over.

Quaker Parrot Nests in a Tree, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 4 of 9
Unlike their Brooklyn cousins, New Jersey's wild parrots like to build nests in trees. At least seven nests are visible here, in Edgewater's "Parrot Park."

Wild Quaker Parrots Taking Off, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 5 of 9
"The Big Flock," is always in a constant state of commotion. Hawks nesting in the Palisades like to prey on the parrots, making quick reflexes and good communication essential for survival.

Wild Quaker Parrots in Flight, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 6 of 9
When the Big Flock takes off, you're likely to forget that you're in the Garden State, and fantasize that you're standing in an exotic parrot-laden rainforest in South America.

Wild Quaker Parrots in Flight, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 7 of 9
The Big Flock flies high, fast, and with breathtaking precision. They have to maintain a high degree of group cohesion in order to drive off the birds of prey which go after them.

Wild Quaker Parrots in Flight, Edgewater, New Jersey, Photo 8 of 9
Graceful in flight, statuesque, and speedy, the wild Quaker Parrots of New Jersey are certainly one of the weirdest, most wonderful wildlife spectacles you'll ever experience in the Garden State.

If you're interested in learning more about New Jersey's magnificent wild parrots, I have more info and photos on them in the following articles:

Monk Parrots Invading New Jersey Beaches(June 2006)
Wild Parrots in New Jersey: Some Recent Photos (June 2006)
Wild Parrots on the Hudson (April 2005)

To learn more about events in Edgewater, check out, run by Alison Evans-Fragale, and, run by Mike Trachtenberg.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

News From Beyond Brooklyn: Monk Parrots in Texas Ruckus

Monk Parrots in the StudioThe Houston Chronicle delivers a fair article on the controversial Texas Monk Parrots. In my view, TXU (the Texas utility company) has had a moderate, considered attitude towards the wild parrots living in the Lone Star State. Let's hope that level heads prevail in this latest confrontation between Parrots and Power.

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Nice Pix from Saturday's Wild Parrot Safari

Photos from December 2006 Wild Parrot Safari
Urban parrot-watchers gather in Brooklyn, 12/02/2006. Photo by Jeff Kirsh

Jeff Kirsh shot some nice photos from yesterday's Wild Parrot Safari in Brooklyn and has posted them on his PhotoBucket site. We had great weather, green parrots, and fine folks: if you missed the December Safari, please join us on January 6th!

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Photo-Essay: March of the Monk Parrots!

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 9
Unlike the famed Emperor Penguins of the wonderful film March of the Penguins, Brooklyn's parrots don't have to march 90 miles to find a mate. In fact, you'll rarely find them marching anywhere, which is why the procession I witnessed last Sunday at Green-wood Cemetery was such an unexpectedly strange event. (Click on any image for an enlarged view).

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 1
At precisely 10:30 AM, a good number of parrots alights on the pavement just inside the main gateway, where they have constructed impressive colonial nests.

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 2
Suddenly, inexplicably, they began marching to the South, following the flock leader (the leftmost parrot).

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 3
The parrots form an orderly line on their southerly trek.

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 4
After marching about 10 yards, the lead parrot seems to realize that this journey might be more hazardous than initially supposed, thanks to the appearance of a large minivan entering the cemetery. He halts the procession.

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 7
An impromptu conference breaks out among the leader's followers. "Should we really go through with this, given the high possibility of being squished?" one parrot seems to ask. "What are we marching for anyway?" another one hypothetically gripes. "Hey - who elected this guy who claims to be leading us?" a third one possibly squawks.

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 5
The leader, sensing that the mood of the flock has changed after their close encounter with a two-ton minivan with high squish potential, issues an "about face" command, and his fellow parrots follow. Now that's leadership!

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 6
On the North side of the pavement, the parrots find a safe spot of turf. They spend a few minutes eating grass and frolicking, safe from the dangerous traffic.

Marching Monk Parrots in Brooklyn, photo 8
And when it's time to leave their spot, they don't march: they fly, which, as we all know, is the safest way to travel!

(Note: nothing in this short photo-essay is meant to suggest that these parrots are wimps. In fact, as you'll see soon, these parrots think nothing of confronting their enemies, even tough falcons, kestrels and crows, head-on. Even so, they draw the line when it comes to minivans.)

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