Photo-Essay: Wild Parrots at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery Thriving in Springtime
The wild parrots of Green-Wood Cemetery live in exquisitely beautiful, yet perilous surroundings, given the presence of multiple predators, ranging from Red-Tailed Hawks to Kestrels and American Crows, each of which represents a threat to this small but thriving wild parrot community. We've discussed "The Green-Wood Gang" of parrots before, and thought it was time for a new photo-essay based on new photos I've taken in the past several weeks. Enjoy (click on any image for an enlarged view)!
In May, there are already young babies in the Quaker Parrots' enormous nests, so the female parrots generally spend their time inside taking care of their newborns. Consequently, you're likely to find more males than females foraging on the grounds and ferrying twigs to and fro from trees. Here, we see a male heading out to liberate some thorny twigs from a local cherry tree.
Quaker Parrots are very picky about the twigs they select for nest building. Only the finest lumber is selected to be part of their homes!
Quakers can put a lot of pressure at their disposal when they clip a twig. If you stand below a bunch of them working on a tree, it sounds like a bunch of toe-clippers being operated high above.
This little parrot has his heart set on trimming a twig which is more than a quarter-inch thick.
At last - Twig Liberation!
Once the twig is separated from the tree, the heavy air-lifting begins. At Green-Wood Cemetery, Quakers often ferry these heavy twigs more than a hundred yards to their destinations high atop the entrance gate.
Life is good for the Quaker Parrots in Spring. Delicious Cherry and Horse Chestnut blossoms are available in quantity, but life is hardly a bowl of cherry blossoms, because there are plenty of predators around to spoil the party.
Most bothersome are the crows, which show up in gangs in the morning, and attempt to break into the Quaker Parrots nests (to eat the eggs). The parrots attempt to thwart this threat by deliberately concealing the eggs in convoluted passageways within the nest.
Giant hawks pose a deadly threat to all the "prey" animals at Green-Wood Cemetery. Swiftly, silently, a Red-Tailed Hawk soars overhead like the Avenging Angel of Death.
This hawk, nick-named "Johannas," who makes his nest high above the Catacombs, is the most powerful bird in the area, and all lesser animals in the Cemetery must cower in terror of his awesome powers.
Except the monk parrots! Although they know they can't confront the Red-Tail directly, the parrots do have the power of raising the alarm so that the other animals can escape. "TAKE COVER!" yells this monk parrot. "THIS IS NOT A DRILL!"
This squirrel, if he's wise, will heed the Monk Parakeet's alarm call.
This robin has less to worry about than the squirrel (unless the hawk is VERY hungry today).
The same is true of this diminuitive local bird, who's too small to represent more than appetizer value on the hawk's rich menu. Still, no animal is completely safe when the Hawk is on patrol.
Once the danger has passed and "All Clear" is signalled by the parrots, one can often find the Monk Parrots foraging in the grass. Males will "chow down" for a good long time, and then feed their mates when they return to the nest.
Most of the time, the foraging males get along, but sometimes small "rumbles" break out. Here, two Quaker Parrots are in "get your beak out of my face" mode.
Many visitors to Green-Wood Cemetery leave small decorations at the graves of their departed loved ones. This grave is decorated with a parrot, which looks a bit like the real ones gracing the Cemetery.
Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of Henry Bergh, the founder of the ASPCA and a true friend to animals. I'm sure Henry would be glad to know that the animals in the Cemetery are doing as well as they are today.
Whether you're parrot-watching, bird-watching, or just in the mood to enjoy the architecture, Green-Wood Cemetery is a must-stop. It's easy to visit on your own, or you can visit it during our next Wild Parrot Safari in Brooklyn, which happens every month.
(P.S.: Do you recognize the parrot in the photo above? I think he's the very same bird featured in a Photo-Essay done last year entitled "The New Boids in Town: Wild Baby Quakers Storm Brooklyn." Check out this photo for comparison. Congratulations on surviving your first mean New York winter, kid!)
For more info on the Green-Wood Cemetery Parrots, please see:
The Greenwood Cemetery Parrots
Hawk Attack in Brooklyn!
The New Boids in Town (Wild Baby Quakers Storm Brooklyn)