A wild baby Quaker Parrot, born in Green-Wood Cemetery, takes a break from survival school to enjoy a beautiful summer morning in Brooklyn.
July has become one of my favorite months, because it's the month when Brooklyn's latest crop of wild baby Quaker Parrots emerges from their nests. (See The New Boids in Town: Wild Quaker Babies Storm Brooklyn
for a look at last summer's newborns).
Parrots, unlike many other creatures that seem to have all the information needed for their survival "hard-wired" into them, must learn a lot from their parents to acquire basic survival skills. For this reason, young parrots stay with their parents for up to a year while their parents nurture and instruct them on how to communicate, how to build, and how to evade predators.
Right now, Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery
is one of the best places in the New York area to watch wild baby parrots "learn the ropes." If you know where to look, you can find trees packed with these charming youngsters and watch them learn lessons from their elders and teach themselves (through trial and error) how to accomplish basic wild parrot tasks.
Here are some pictures I got of Brooklyn's latest wild Quaker Crop on Sunday, July 8, 2007 (click on any photo for an enlarged view).
This tree at Green-Wood Cemetery looks ordinary enough. But unplug your iPod for a moment and listen: this tree is packed with baby parrots!
There's a lot of self-education going on in this tree. Here, three fresh babies practice some basic tree-trimming techniques. These skills are vital to learn because they'll eventually be assigned nest-building duties, and someday build nests of their own. But where are these babies' parents?
Well, they've "parked" their young ones in the tree, where they're relatively safe from predators, and are out foraging and filling their crops, so they can later allofeed (feed via direct beak-to-beak transfer) their youngsters later. This pair of grown-ups is eating grass, which forms a large part of wild Quaker Parrots' diet. Foraging is a dangerous activity because of occasional hawk attacks
, so the parents are wise to leave their children in the trees where cover protects them.
Here, we see two babies who are testing out their tree-trimming skills. The one on the right appears to be having second thoughts about attempting to trim a branch that's about an inch thick. Smart move!
And what's this baby doing, dangling from the end of a supple limb? Is he so clueless as to attempt to trim the same limb he's hanging from?
Don't cut the limb you're hanging from, kid - this mistake has injured many a lumberjack!
Of course, the baby did exactly that a second after I snapped the photo, falling backward out of the tree like a stone. Fortunately, his wings kicked in, and what would have been a disaster for a human was just a minor embarassment for a winged creature. Wild baby parrots are surprisingly inept, leading to much head-scratching among the older generation. "Kids keep getting dumber and dumber," muses this old Brooklyn bird.Now that's more like it! Cut the twig in the middle, or at the end furthest from the tree trunk. Hey, I think this little guy is on his way to becoming a master architect of the bird world!
Allright. Enough tree-trimming for today. Mom's back from foraging and it's time for a snack.Even though the babies still depend on allofeeding, they're already learning to enjoy the many natural delights provided by Green-Wood Cemetery's many trees. Here, two babies "parked" in a tree by their parents enjoy some fresh pine cones. (Note: I've actually tried these and they're not bad).Another baby tastes fresh berries for the first time. By the end of summer, these babies, through nature and nurture, will have acquired all of the basic skills required to be a wild Brooklyn Parrot.
For more info on the wild parrots of Green-Wood Cemetery, see:
Labels: Baby Parrots, Greenwood-Cemetery Parrots, Parrot Behavior, Parrot Diet, Photo-Essays