Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Controversy Splits Bay Ridge Over "Dust Bowl" Renaming Competition

Some Brooklyn residents are squawking over plans to rename "The Dust Bowl," a recently renovated athletic field in Bay Ridge, to either "Quaker Parrot Park" or "The Parrot Bowl, which have been the most popular entries in City Councilmember Vincent Gentile's "Rename The Dust Bowl" competition.

Obviously, I'm biased, because I think it's high time that Brooklyn's intrepid parrots get some formal recognition from the City. So I was asked to write an Op Ed article for the Brooklyn Courier which you can read here.

You can weigh in yourself on whether to keep the old "Dust Bowl" name, which, to my mind, commemorates the tragedy of the Great Depression more than it does the current condition of the ball field, or whether to give the parrots their due by visiting this link.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Manhattan Parrots Rebuilding After Vandal Attack

A wild Quaker Parrot cuts lumber for a new nest on the island of Manhattan after vandals destroyed her nest.  Photo Credit: Anita Morganstern

This past summer, an enterprising group of wild Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets) attempted to establish a foothold on the island of Manhattan. While these parrots are numerous in the outer boroughs, Manhattan has always been a "forbidden zone," either because of efforts by City authorities to exclude them from "The Rock" or by the unfriendly actions of private citizens who object to their presence here.

By early August, the parrots were on the verge of establishing a thriving colony close to the Hudson River near 145th Street, but then disaster -- in the form of a group of free-range human predators from the adjacent neighborhood -- completely destroyed their habitat.

Fortunately, the parrots were able to escape with their lives, and have now commenced rebuilding their nest at a more secure location. For obvious security reasons, the precise location cannot be revealed here, but it is within a short parrot's flight from their original habitat. If work continues at a normal pace, this new nest should be ready to protect them by the time that cold weather sets in.

My hope is that these remarkable birds will be left alone by predatory humans, which is all they really ask for.

 A view of the new wild parrot nest, under construction, September, 2010. Photo Credit: Anita Morganstern.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Wild Parrots at Brooklyn College May Soon Lose Habitat

Wild parrot nest removals at Brooklyn College, June 2007. Photo 1 of 3
Two of the four 75-foot tall lighting poles that will soon be removed at Brooklyn College due to an athletic field renovation plan. The wild Quaker Parrots that live on campus reside on these poles.

Sources at Brooklyn College informed me this past weekend that there is a high likelihood that the wild Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets) that have lived on campus for nearly 40 years will soon lose their habitat. The cause of this uprooting and displacement will be the execution of the final phase of the renovation plan for Brooklyn College's athletic field.

Unfortunately for the parrots, my sources tell me that the current plan calls for the removal of the four remaining four tall steel light towers traditionally used by the parrots for nesting facilities (there were originally six of these poles; two were removed several years ago). These poles will be taken down, an event which will certainly cause the parrots to disperse from the area. When the pole removals will take place is anybody's guess, but my sources tell me that "the plan is two years behind schedule," which means that it could take place at any time in the near future. I do not know if the plan includes any provision for alternative nesting platforms for the parrots as was done in Bay Ridge recently and am trying to establish this now.

I am very sad that it appears that Brooklyn College will no longer be the site of a large wild parrot colony after the poles are removed. Obviously, there will be no need to conduct any wild parrot safaris in the neighborhood of Midwood unless there are wild parrots residing there. More importantly, the loss of Brooklyn's main "anchor colony" for the parrots will force the parrots to seek out alternative nest opportunities, all or most of which will certainly be more vulnerable to destruction by human and/or animal predators. Again, my hope is that project plan includes provision for the wild parrots but know that these plans do not always do so: the default behavior of most developers is to provide for human use and ignore the needs of wild creatures completely.

I will be continuing my inquiries as to the details of Brooklyn College's project plan in the future and will post what I learn here. In the meantime, if you want to see wild parrots at Brooklyn College, it's best to act soon, because the parrots may not be around in the near future.