Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remember The Fallen

Wild Quaker Parrot rises above headstones of American Civil War Dead, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, May 25, 2008, Photo by Steve Baldwin
Wild Quaker Parrot rises above markers for American Civil War Dead, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, May 25, 2008, by Steve Baldwin

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update: NY City Council Resolution to Protect Wild Quaker Parrots

Update: NY City Council Resolution to Protect Wild Quakers

Today I received the following message from Barry Schwartz, who's been spearheading the effort to protect Wild Quaker Parrots in New York City:

"We are still trying to get the City resolution on to the Env. Prot. Committee's calendar. It's a tough process. If you have not done so already, please write a letter of support to Councilmember Gennaro below. Please pass this along to everyone you know....one does not necessarily have to be an NYC resident to express support.

Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Borough President, an ardent parrot lover, wrote a terrific letter of support to NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn."

NYC COUNCIL
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE
Committee Chairperson
James F. Gennaro

District Office Address
185-10 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, Fresh Meadows, New York, 11366
Phone: (718) 217-4969
Fax Phone No.: (718) 217-4968

Legislative Office Address
250 Broadway, 17th Floor, 10007
Phone: (212) 788-6956

Committee Members
Chairperson: James F. Gennaro
Bill de Blasio
Elizabeth Crowley
Mathieu Eugene
Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.
Erik Ulrich
Peter F. Vallone, Jr.
Thomas White, Jr.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Memory of Cliff Patterson, of the Quaker Parakeet Society


Cliff Patterson, with Cookie, his beloved Quaker Parrot, in 2006.

Cliff Patterson was a wonderful, caring human being whose wisdom and humor informed many discussions on the Quaker Parakeet Society electronic mailing list. Sadly, Cliff passed on last Friday at the comparatively young age of 65. I always welcomed reading Cliff's posts, which were reliably wry, witty and warm. I am grateful to Cliff for being very supportive of my efforts to get the word out about the wild Quaker Parrots of Brooklyn and beyond.

Cliff will be dearly missed by many, and The Quaker Parakeet Society will doubtless do much to commemorate the life of this remarkable man. In the meantime, here's a photo of Cliff with Cookie, his beloved Quaker Parrot, which I took at the Gateway Parrot Hookbill Festival in St. Louis in 2006.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

CBS News With Katie Couric Reports on the Parrots and People Paradox

CBS News With Katie Couric Reports on the Parrots and People ParadoxKudos to CBS News, which tonight aired a segment on the plight of parrots bought impulsively by people unprepared to properly care for them. Parrots are bright, social, flock-oriented creatures that are often confined to tiny cages without emotional support. While it's true that the free-range Quaker Parrots we find in Brooklyn wouldn't be here without the pet trade, the unrestricted activities of this trade are one of the greatest dangers to parrots, which remain the world's most endangered bird group. I was proud to contribute a few video clips of wild Quaker Parrots to CBS to help this story be told.

Monday, May 04, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Wild Conures Spotted in Kew Gardens, Queens


The Wild Conures of Queens are the rarest of New York's flocks of wild parrots. Photo by Ralph Bancer.

The world has long known of the flocks of wild conures living in San Francisco, thanks to Judy Irving's film classic, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. But the existence of wild conures of Queens, New York remains cloaked in mystery. These rare parrots -- originally native to South America -- keep to themselves for most of the year, and no one knows where they nest or raise their young. Only in late April and early May do they announce themselves, flying to and fro from the many blossoming trees in Queens.

Unlike monk parakeets (AKA Quaker Parrots), which build insulated nests on man-made infrastructure to keep them warm, conures only nest in tree hollows, which are much rarer in urban environments. How these parrots endure New York's harsh winters is unknown, as is the explanation for when, how, and why they arrived in Queens.

These photos, taken by Ralph Bancer, capture these rare birds in action. Savor these images, for by June these parrots will have returned o their chosen obscurity, deep in the heart of Queens' urban jungle, with the secrets of their season-defying survival concealed from the mind of man.


This conure looks pretty good, considering that he or she has just endured a cruel New York winter. Photo by Ralph Bancer.


We don't have a clue as to how these conures manage to survive New York's mean streets, but we wish them well. Photo by Ralph Bancer.