A Peregrine Falcon in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery does his best to terrorize the local parrots. All photos and text by Steve Baldwin.
I know there are many fine people in New York City who admire raptors, but from a wild Quaker Parrot perspective they're a total nightmare. Raptors such as Red-Tailed Hawks and Peregrine Falcons prey on the parrots, and the parrots have to use every tool in their arsenal, including their patented Sentinel Early Warning System (SEWS) to stay one step ahead of these fearsome flesh-eaters. In this photo-essay, shot on Labor Day, 2007, BrooklynParrots.com takes a close look at how a Peregrine Falcon nearly ruined the Brooklyn Parrots' annual Labor Day parade held in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery
.Photo-Essay: Marauding Falcon Nearly Ruins Brooklyn Parrots' Labor Day Celebration
(Click on any photo for an enlarged view.)
At precisely seven A.M. on Monday, September 3rd, 2007, the Brooklyn Parrots' Green-Wood Cemetery division begins their annual Labor Day celebration. As is the custom, an aerobatics display is conducted in which four parrots from the famed "Green Angel" squadron fly tight loops around Green-Wood Cemetery's historic gate.
Security always being a concern at any Quaker Parrot celebration, sharp-eyed sentries are strategically posted on the Gothic spires and in trees overlooking the parade and picnic grounds.
After a few minutes of inspiring speeches celebrating the Quaker Parrots' hard-working habits (they are among the hardest working animals in Brooklyn), a tasty breakfast consisting of Sugar Maple fruit is served to the merry-makers.
This seasonal delicacy is second only to pine cones on the wild Quaker Parrot menu.
After breakfast, several parrots use the opportunity provided by the day's enhanced security to pay their respects to the Forgotten Civil War Veterans of Green-Wood Cemetery.
At 7:55 AM, although the Labor Day celebration has barely begun, an unexpectedly urgent call from a sentry calls the birds back to their airy fortress. Something is afoot - but what?
The Quakers assemble in and around their nests, each watching something invisible to the human eye that is fast approaching from the East.
Suddenly, a strident ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK! ACK!, the Quaker Parrot equivalent of "Mayday, Mayday!" sounds throughout the cemetery. Escaping parrots fly out of nest portals like feathery projectiles shot from a catapult.
At last, the predator shows his face: a large Peregrine Falcon heading straight for the parrot nests!
The predator dives directly at the nests (he may even have crashed into them).
But the parrots have already taken to the air seconds before the Falcon's arrival, gaining altitude above the predator while shrieking wildly to maintain flock cohesion. Soon they land on the branches of a tall pine tree about 100 yards from the nest complex.
But the Falcon will not give up, and dives at the tree where the parrots have taken shelter. He is clearly savoring a little green meal!
The parrots split left and right, a half-second before the raptor arrives.
The parrots rise again, screaming. Within minutes, they head off in the general direction of Park Slope, a neighborhood just to the north providing protective cover against the raptor's assault. It will be several hours before they return.
Only in the late afternoon do the parrots feel safe enough to continue their Labor Day parade.
The Falcon's attack was an unwelcome event, but it does succeed in cementing a sense of solidarity between Brooklyn's Parrots and the local pigeons who are also preyed upon by Brooklyn's merciless raptors. As one parrot noted, "we're all birds of prey here and despite our obvious differences should be working together to defeat the raptor class once and for all!"
Labels: Greenwood-Cemetery Parrots, Peregrine Falcons, Photo-Essays, Raptors