Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quaker Parrots Can Dance Too!

The BBC and NPR both came out with stories today on a remarkable new finding by scientists: parrots are the best dancing animals in the world! 14 different kinds of parrots can keep a near-perfect beat, and the supreme avian dance master is definitely Snowball: an incredible high-stepping cockatoo with a taste for the Backstreet Boys.

Here's Snowball in action:


While Snowball is definitely the Ginger Rogers of dancing parrots, let it not be said that Quaker Parrots - the same species that lives wild in Brooklyn - can't dance too, as proven by Ellen Krueger, of the Quaker Parakeet Society. Fonzie, Ellen's multi-talented Quaker, clearly enjoys doing the boogie as much as Snowball does!


For more parrot dancing fun, check out Frostie the parrot dancing to Ray Charles' "Shake Your Tail Feather."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Willie the Hero Quaker Parrot Interviewed on Fox News

Willie the Hero Quaker Parrot Interviewed on Fox NewsWillie the Hero Quaker Parrot, who saved a little girl's life back in November 2008, was interviewed on Fox News last week. Willie doesn't say much in this interview, but he really doesn't have to: actions always speak louder than words, even from a talkative Quaker Parrot. We're lucky to have Willie's kind flying free in New York City!

Wild Quaker Parrots Appear in Amityville, Long Island

Amityville's wild parrots' nesting site
appears to be atop an old communications
tower. Photo by 
Dr. Jud Newborn.
Amityville, Long Island, might appear to be an unlikely place to find wild parrots, but it appears that several birds have set up shop in a beach-side communications tower. These parrots are definitely Quakers, and quite possibly are distantly related to the flock that escaped from JFK airport nearly 40 years ago. Previous sightings of similar parrots on Long Island include reports from Lynbrook, Oceanside, and now, Amityville.

Thanks to Dr. Jud Newborn, who served as Founding Historian and Curator of the Museum of Jewish Heritage (1986-2000) and is now an independent author and lecturer. Jud took the photos you see in this story and we are grateful for his permission to reproduce them on BrooklynParrots.com

A pair of wild Long Island parrots perch
on a guy wire adjacent to their well-crafted
condo nest. Photo by 
Dr. Jud Newborn.




A suburban wild parrot peers out of a
nest carefully crafted out of twigs. 
Photo by Dr. Jud Newborn.









Monday, April 20, 2009

Photo-Essay: Green-Wood Parrots Begin Massive Reconstruction Project

Last week, only a few twigs had been placed by the parrots in the recently de-nested southern spire of Green-Wood Cemetery's historic entrance gate.
Last week, only a few twigs had been placed by the parrots in the recently de-nested southern spire of Green-Wood Cemetery's historic entrance gate, but work continues at a frenetic pace.

Brooklyn's Master Architects of the Bird World, the wild Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets) of Green-Wood Cemetery, appear to have taken the recent removal of their massive multifamily condominium-style nest structure in stride and are now actively rebuilding. Such removals happen every 10 years at Green-Wood Cemetery, where the parrots have lived since the early 1960s, when the historic gate structures need to be inspected and/or repaired.

On Saturday, April 18, I inspected the parrots' efforts to rebuild their housing on Green-Wood Cemetery's main gate. The parrots appear to be working South to North, with significant progress shown on a nest on the southernmost spire. Here are some photos illustrating the parrots' progress. All photos by yours truly, Steve Baldwin; just click on any photo for an expanded view.

But the parrots have been busy all week, and a nest is beginning to take shape (just to the left in this photo).
The parrots have been busy all week, and a small nest is beginning to take shape (just to the left in this photo).

The parrots have already placed hundreds of sticks into position. These will be systematically clipped and shaped until a proper entrance portal can be fashioned.
Already, this nest consists of hundreds of twigs carefully placed into position by the parrots. These will be systematically clipped and shaped until a proper entrance portal can be fashioned.

Doing this takes hundreds of parrot-hours of heavy air-lifting.
Doing this takes hundreds of parrot-hours of heavy air-lifting.

Fortunately, there's plenty of tasty grass for these grass-eaters to consume within just a few feet of the construction site.
Fortunately, there's plenty of tasty grass for these grass-eaters to consume within just a few feet of the construction site.


There's plenty of action at the central spire, formerly the site of the biggest parrot nest in Brooklyn.
There's plenty of action at the central spire, formerly the site of the biggest parrot nest in Brooklyn.

These parrots appear to be part of a surveying team examining the functional specifications for an adequate nest sub-structure at Green-Wood's main gate.
These parrots appear to be part of a surveying team examining the functional specifications for an adequate nest sub-structure at Green-Wood's main gate.

A parrot arrives at the main gate with a tremendous twig that will likely be laid in as part of the new nest's foundational substructure.
A parrot arrives at the main gate with a tremendous twig that will likely be laid in as part of the new nest's foundational substructure.

These parrots appear to be enjoying the fact that at least part of their lost nest is now in place again.
These parrots appear to be enjoying the fact that at least part of their lost nest is now in place again.

If all goes well, the angels of Green-Wood Cemetery will soon greet a fully-functioning condomium-style Monk Parakeet nest before Spring turns to Summer.
If all goes well, the angels of Green-Wood Cemetery will soon greet a fully-functioning condomium-style Monk Parakeet nest before Spring turns to Summer.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Wild Parrot Nest Removals at Green-Wood Cemetery

One of two artificial nest platforms erected at Green-Wood Cemetery for use by Monk Parakeets during renovation work of main gate.
One of two artificial nest platforms erected at Green-Wood Cemetery for use by Monk Parakeets during renovation of main gate structure.

Last week, a long-planned project to inspect and renovate the main gate at Green-Wood Cemetery began. Part of the work requires the partial or complete removal of the massive colonial nests built by the Monk Parakeets (AKA Quaker Parrots) who have lived there for years. Fortunately, the project engineers consulted with various Quaker Parrot experts, who advised them to do their work before the Quakers' breeding season began. Failing to do this can result in the inhumane situation of removing young birds from their parents' care when they most need it, plus the need to take care of these young parrots, whose lifespans can exceed 30 years. This happened at Throgs Neck in 2007, and may happen within weeks in Bay Ridge unless the project managers can somehow be persuaded to delay their planned work (which will happen in June) to a time after the parrots finish breeding.


It is always painful to watch such nest removals and their aftermath. Several attendees of the April 2009 Wild Brooklyn Parrot Safari grimaced while watching the birds frantically rebuild their nests while knowing their efforts were in vain. At the same time, it is actually good that these removals happened when they did. Although the parrots' breeding season was interrupted, they'll likely simply delay having young until they can rebuild their nests.

Additionally, it was truly inspiring to see the efforts of Green-Wood Cemetery's management to minimize the suffering of the parrots. Two large steel artificial nest platforms were deployed to provide temporary shelter for the parrots during the renovation project. Using best practices for wild parrot nest removals proves that Green-Wood Cemetery truly values its wild parrots, and wants them to be there for future generations to enjoy.


You can clearly see the area cleared by the renovation workers at the center of the photo (below the perching parrots). First an inspection will take place to assess any damage to the stone (there doesn't look like any in this photo), followed by necessary renovation work.
You can clearly see the area cleared by the renovation workers at the center of the photo (below the perching parrots). First an inspection will take place to assess any damage to the stone (there doesn't look like any in this photo), followed by necessary renovation work.

Two steel artificial nest platform towers on each side of the main gate have been constructed to provide temporary housing for the parrots while work on the main gate proceeds.
Two steel artificial nest platform towers on each side of the main gate have been constructed to provide temporary housing for the parrots while work on the main gate proceeds.

Sticks were placed in the nest platforms to interest the parrots in visiting them. Several parrots were observed
Sticks were placed in the North nest platform to coax the parrots into visiting them and using them for temporary housing. Several parrots were observed "checking out" the platforms on Saturday, April 4, 2009.


The platform design uses gridwork to provide an anchor for Monk Parakeet stick nests. There are no twigs placed on the South platform: it will be interesting to see whether the Monks build on it, or whether they just use it for perching (as might other interesting avians).


While the nest removals represent a hardship for Green-Wood's wild parrots, extraordinary great care was taken to minimize the disruptions for the wildlife. Hopefully, within a month or so, life will return to normal at Green-Wood's historic main gate, where the parrots have roosted for many years.
While the nest removals represent a hardship for Green-Wood's wild parrots, extraordinary care was taken to minimize the suffering. Hopefully, within a month or so, life will return to normal at Green-Wood's historic main gate, where the parrots have roosted for many years.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dallas Parrot Nest Removals Appear to Be Humane

Dallas Nest Removals Appear to Be HumaneDFW News, an NBC affiliate, reports that the Oncor utility company recently removed nesting Quaker Parrots from several of its power lines in Dallas, Texas. Special care seems to have been taken to spare the birds from harm; eggs removed will be hatched at a wildlife Center, with hatchlings eventually scheduled for re-release.