Kevin O'Connor and Barry Schwartz, 75-feet above the ground, gingerly handles a wild baby Quaker Parrot removed from its nest prior to dismantling.Update 8/23/2007:
I have uploaded a companion Youtube video
to this story.
Wild Quaker Parrots have lived in the Bronx for many years, and have built a substantial colony in Pelham Bay Park (photo-essay
). But a lesser-known, albiet thriving colony of wild parrots also lives in another part of the Bronx called Throggs Neck
. These parrots are much beloved by the residents of this leafy neighborhood, and have built large nests in and around the Throggs Neck Little League Baseball field. This field is leased on land belonging to the City of New York, and when it came time to replace the lights and electrical infrastructure around the field, the DDC (Department of Design and Construction
) was called in to perform the work.
Of course, the parrots' large communal nests, built in the light towers, were in the way, and after much study and consideration, it was decided that the nests had to be removed to ensure the safety of the workers. Fortunately, the DDC has on its staff Barry A. Schwartz, vice-president and secretary of the Maspeth Bird Haven
. Long before actual work began, Barry involved many folks who care about wild quakers, including Marc Johnson, Paul Brennan, and Karen Windsor of FosterParrots.com
, Donna Dwyer, of CTQuakers.com
, Alison Evans-Fragale, of EdgewaterParrots.com
, and myself. Barry understood that while the DDC is expert when it comes to big construction projects
, the project could benefit from having folks on hand who work with Quakers everyday. This operation also mobilized Mike Pastore, of New York Animal Care & Control
Very early on the morning of June 7th, a group of 22 gathered at the field, were briefed on the day's operations, and then Barry and Jim of the DDC ascended the rented lift, with Kevin O'Conner's steady hands at the controls. A special probe was inserted into the nest to identify any babies within. The nests were removed very carefully, by hand, to ensure that any babies the probe wouldn't be hurt by a blunt instrument. Recovered baby Quakers were placed gingerly in either a carrier or a Tupperware container, depending on their age. Once the lift came down, these youngsters were placed in cushioned aquarium-style tanks. All of the young had full crops, so no immediate feeding was necessary. All in all, 43 babies, plus 3 eggs, were recovered from four large nests, and all birds and eggs were sped safely away to FosterParrots.com's facility where they will be raised and treated well.
We were all sad to see the Quakers' impressive nests removed, and it was agonizing watching the babies' parents watch as their young were removed from the family hearth. But this kind of major infrastructural improvement only happens once every 30 or 40 years. The latest news is that the birds have already begun rebuilding operations, and they'll have plenty of time to complete their nests (and perhaps breed again) before the cold weather sets in again.
I am very glad to have been associated with this operation and believe it to be a model of the way that municipalities should deal with Quaker Parrot nest removals. By bringing in volunteers, working very carefully, and being prepared, this operation was a complete success. Not an egg was damaged and not a feather was ruffled. These wild parrots have a highly favorable living situation, where their landlords (the Little League) not only tolerate their presence, but celebrate it. They have chosen wisely by choosing a city, and a borough, with a big heart.
(Note: I shot a lot of video of the operation and will have something ready for you to view soon. In the meantime, here are some photos).Photos from the Great Baby Quaker Parrot Rescue, June 7, 2007
(click on any photo for an enlarged view)
The Throggs Neck Quakers, like their cousins elsewhere in New York City, have chosen to live in high stadium light pole arrays approximately 75 feet in the air. Many lights have failed or been broken (by line drives) over the years, necessitating their replacement.Reaching these nests requires use of a hydraulic lift, which was rented for the operation.In the lift were Barry A. Schwartz, Jim Ruchalski, of the DDC, and Kevin O'Connor.This was the most careful, meticulous Quaker Parrot nest removal I've ever witnessed. No clumsy tools were used: clumps of twigs were pulled out by hand, to minimize the chance that babies or eggs would be injured. The workers also wore full HazMat suits, to eliminate even the slightest chance of inhaling any germs.Here, a baby Quaker Parrot is handed gingerly from one worker to another. Keeping this little bird under control was crucial: he probably wouldn't have survived the 75-foot drop if he'd gotten loose. Happily, he made it safely into the carrier.Early on in the operation, a baby, frightened by the activity, plunged out of the nest, and dove down in a straight line. It was clearly his first flight, and because he hadn't yet learned to turn, he collided with the clubhouse. We were all fearful that he'd been injured, but he was fine, albiet a bit stunned. Here, Paul Brennan, from FosterParrots.com, cradles this lucky bird. (photo credit: Allison Evans-Fragale)The same bird, nicknamed "Bouncy," safely in a "critter tank," is will soon be whisked to an indoor aviary in Massachussettes, where he'll vastly improve his flight skills. (photo credit: Allison Evans-Fragale)The workmen made many trips to and from the high nests, bearing their precious cargo with care.
The babies were sped to a carrier, where they would be shielded from the elements.
Quite a few of the rescued birds were mature babies, almost ready to make their own way in the world. (photo credit: Alison Evans-Fragale)Others were much younger, and had just opened their eyes.(photo credit: Allison Evans-Fragale)These fresh-born tiny babies were only a few days old when they were recovered, and were placed in a special temperature-controlled case
.Karen, of FosterParrots.com, joins a Throggs Neck resident in marveling at these little miracles. All in all, 43 young parrots were rescued plus 3 eggs.
This was an all-day operation, and just after 3:00 PM, a bunch of kids from a local school came by to see what all the excitement was about.Many had never seen a wild baby parrot before.
We all felt very bad for these babies' parents, who must have felt terrible grief at the loss of their young. We wish we had a way to tell them that they would be well-cared for by good people. But we are also happy to learn that the adults have already begun rebuilding, and that the new nests they build will not be disturbed for a long, long time.
Some of the folks who participated in this rescue include (from left), Alison Evans-Fragale, Donna Dwyer, and Karen Windsor and Marc Johnson of FosterParrots.com.
Here's Paul, of FosterParrots.com. It appears that this baby recognizes the green Foster Parrots logo on Paul's shirt!Care and skill of DDC personnel made this operation a success.
I shot a lot of video on that day and will be sharing it with you soon. I will also be chronicling the birds as they rebuild their lost domiciles this summer.(photo credit: Allison Evans-Fragale)
Labels: Bronx Parrots, FosterParrots.com, Quaker Rescue, Throggs Neck