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November 17, 2006

Borough President Markowitz cracks down on parrot poaching in Brooklyn

brooklyn parrots, originally uploaded by anniebee.

Kudos to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz for taking a hard line on parrot poachers:

The poaching of Brooklyn’s wild monk parrots from their perches on neighborhood streets has been ruffling the feathers of bird-lovers for months, and now, the borough’s parrot-owner-in-chief is taking matters into his own … er … talons.

“It’s just reprehensible to me that anyone would try to poach the parrots,” Borough President Markowitz told The Brooklyn Papers. “They’re abusing these beautiful little creatures.”

His sympathy for the green-feathered birds is not surprising — he’s the proud owner of a talking five-year-old African gray parrot named Beep, whose vocabulary includes “words” like “fughedaboutit.”

“I have some feelings about parrots,” acknowledged Markowitz.

[Brooklyn Papers]

I'm so glad Brooklyn's First Parrot knows the word "fughedaboutit."

Here's a site where you can learn more about the wild parrots of Brooklyn.

I'm now disconcerted because on the other day on the subway, I met a fellow downtown A-train rider with a charming baby monk parrot perched on his shoulder. I hope it wasn't a poached parrot. The guy bought his little friend from a pet store, but you never know where those outlets get their specimens. I hope that cute little bird wasn't kidnapped from the Green-Wood Cemetery.


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I didn't realize New York had wild parrots too. We have a huge flock that hangs out just across from where I work in downtown San Francisco. En masse, they sound like chattering monkeys--which I suppose is how we sound to them.

Chicago also has a flock of wild parrots. They live in a tree right across from the apartment where the late great Mayor Harold Washington lived, near the lakefront in the Hyde Park neighborhood. I wonder what other U.S. cities have them?

I get a kick out of BrooklynParrots Born in the USA bumper sticker campaign:

Born in the USA Wild Parrot Bumper Sticker These parrots were born here, they need your support, and this bumper sticker proclaims their citizenship!


The Brooklyn parrots have all of the great qualities we associate with the American character: they're industrious, loyal to each other, they're amazing little engineers, they coexist well with other native birds, and they just won't give up, even when the deck is stacked against them.

That's the spirit!

I'm a big of the Brooklyn Parrots site. Steve Baldwin is a neighbor in Bay Ridge, though we've not yet met.

I like the Parrots Map, which is very accurate. I found a big nest of parrots walking distance from here by the world famous "Dust Bowl" sports field (8th Avenue and 66th Street)

And there is no better place to find out about the next
Parrot Safari!

The picture captures two things about monk parakeets that make them different from feral parrot populations of other species: they thrive in man made environments and they build huge communal nests.

You can poach all the monk parakeets you like and you’re not likely to do their populations any harm. Uniquely among the 300-plus extant species of parrots, of which many have been released here, and a few which have established breeding populations, these parrots have managed to get a solid foothold in North America. A fondness for urbanized landscapes and a relatively catholic diet helps. They’re also doing fine where they came from in South America. Trees like eucalyptus planted in the open areas from Argentina to Bolivia provide nesting opportunities in new places.

Which gives me an idea of what to do this weekend. I know there is a colony or colonies of these birds in N.E. Portland, OR. I’ve never seen a monk parakeet, so I think I might just try to track them down.

I love the parrots! They occasionally come feed at my neighbor's bird feeder. I first noticed them during a blizzard.

You'd think the winters would be too cold for the little guys ...

"You'd think the winters would be too cold for the little guys ..."

Yes, you would think so as their native range doesn't encompass any place nearly as cold as New York or Chicago where they've been doing fine for years. They could yet break out of the urban areas in which they've established themselves and become a widespread agricultural pest. Hasn't happened so far though. Invasion biology is a hot topic now and this animal is a typical example: the reasons for its (fairly modest) success as an invader are somewhat enigmatic. Florida and California have had breeding populations of parrots and parakeets of various sorts that wax and wane, flicker alive then die out, for decades. The monk parakeet is the only one that really seems to be taking off, and not just in warm areas.

I’d rather have the Carolina Parakeet back, and I don’t like to see the environment polluted with exotic species. I don’t mind seeing the few birds that have established themselves benignly – pheasants, chukar, gray partridge, even pigeons, filthy as they are. Then again, there are starlings which as an introduced ecological running sore, monk parakeets will hopefully never resemble.

Cfrost, if you visit the Quaker parakeets, send pictures!

There are wild parakeets in my part of south-west London too. One theory (or urban legend) says that they escaped from Heathrow Airport. Then again, the Brooklyn Parrots site says that the monk parrots escaped from JFK, so either exoduses of exotic birds from airports are more common than one might suppose or the legend has crossed the Atlantic.

We have flocks of wild parrots all over Amsterdam, in the parks and pretty much anywhere there's any sheltered wooded area. They're very adaptable and clever birds and will eat whatever's to hand. In the Vliegenbos, the park up the street from us, there are several breeding colonies.

It's quite disconcerting to hear a cacophony of squawks and see a bright green flurry of wings over the canals in summer - in winter it's even more disorienting to see parrots in the snow.

The ones in Hyde Park, Chicago, mentioned above have an enormous nest. For years I only saw them near the Lake. Now I see them in my neighborhood on the far edge of the city. They are squawkers!

It doesn't seem fair: you not only get to experience four seasons, but you get the parrots too. (And yes, I do miss real winters.)

I am always heartened by cool animals that thrive in human dominated environments, especially very intelligent ones. I like crows for the same reason, even though they aren't as nice to look at. I like thinking that the non-human world can actually increase in net sapience, even in the presence of humans.


I'm a crow fan myself.

I looked at your site today--wonderful pictures of the kids. Looks like you have a full and happy house. Happy pre-Thanksgiving.

What is comical is to see the parrots arguing with the magpies - they're about evenly matched for smarts if not size.

Are there magpies in Holland? If so, I am envious.

Didn’t get To Portland to hunt down the monk parakeets today and it looks like rain tomorrow. If there are any Portlanders (OR) out there, they are, or were recently anyway, at the PDX maintenance bldg. at 7111NE Alderwood Rd. There are some in Scio also.

The Parakeets in S.E. England and the Low Countries, among other European places, are Rose-ringed or ring-necked parakeets Psittacula krameri, originally from India. Green, with a crimson beak, long tail, slender, fast and by all accounts very noisy. In The Book of Indian Birds 13th Ed. By Salim Ali, it is described as common in rural and urban areas, an agricultural pest, popular cage bird, and so on, then: “Learns loading and firing of toy cannon”. No further explanation. So, if I ever find my way to India I’ll have to see this as well as the snake charmers.

And yes, there are magpies all over Europe. They look exactly like the ones in Western N. Am. and until recently were considered the same species.

--You'd think the winters would be too cold for the little guys ...

You surely would, but they do just fine

Brooklyn Parrots had photos of them huddling in a tree for warmth on a very cold day, but I can't find it.

Goya painted a picture with a magpie I always thought was funny - the cats.

Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga

The wide-eyed cat in that painting is the memetic ancestor of all American cartoon cats.

The parots are not native to North America and are pushing out native song birds. Markowitz's feelings notwidthstanding, the birds have no protection under the law and a right thinking invidual understands that they are an invassive species which really need to be removed from the wild.

BTW - I also own a Grey and have for 14 years.


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