With all the hoopla surrounding Pizza Rat, I’d thought I’d add a few photos I snapped a few years back of some wild Brooklyn Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets/Quaker Parrots) enjoying pizza on Bedford Avenue.
These photos were NOT staged. The pizza slice in question was discarded on the sidewalk. Two parrots on watch saw the slice, they flew over, and air-lifted it into the tree. The slice was shared and largely devoured by the parrots; but one large fragment was dropped and enjoyed subsequently by a local sparrow.
September 14, 2015: While the Monk Parakeets (AKA Quaker Parrots) we find living in Brooklyn don’t go out of their way to bother other birds, they do a fair share of fighting amongst themselves. Check out the video below, which I shot a couple of years ago at Brooklyn College.
Obviously, something is bothering several of these birds, and they’ve decided to take it out on one another. Within about 15 seconds, the whole gang of parrots is rumbling like the cast of West Side Story. Interestingly, this battle appears to be a completly infra-parrot flock happening. The pigeons, sparrows, and lone squirrel who are part of this group don’t really seem to react to it at all.
Did some bird make the mistake of issuing a Trump-class insult to another one? Or just look at a bird the wrong way? I’ve replayed this tape many times, and still can’t get to the bottom of what prompted this peculiar street brawl.
According to Hubson, fights happen in a stange game of “telephone aggression,” wherein Bird A bothers Bird B, who bothers Bird C, who bothers Bird D. Who’s the beneficiary of this chain of biting and feather-pulling? Bird A, who now understands who’s who in the pecking order, and where exactly Bird A fits in. Also, any birds watching the aggression (and that’s a lot of them: rubber-necking seems to be a major past time among these parrots). Who is it safe to hassle? Who should one steer clear of? The chain of aggression tells the tale.
Each moment in an aggressive outburst is, it seems, a teachable moment. Conflict — observed, analyzed, and adapted by each member of the flock, appears to be a core mechanism for socialization and, it is presumed, better flock cohesion and better chances of flock survival.
I’m very glad to know that all this fighting, biting, yelling, and feather-pulling has a noble purpose!
If you’re not familiar with Birdie, he’s the official mascot of GreeNYC, New York City’s public education program ” dedicated to educating, engaging, and mobilizing New Yorkers to take simple, but meaningful, steps to reduce their energy use, generate less waste, and live more sustainable lifestyles. ”
Frankly, I’m delighted that the City of New York chose a Quaker Parrot to represent this office. Quakers are resourceful, intelligent, thoroughly urban, and decidedly green! And while Birdie — originally developed during the Bloomberg Administration — seemed to be an endangered species a few years ago — he’s been brought back by Mayor Bill DeBlasio and is bigger than ever these days (he’s already more than 5 feet tall.)
I had a chance to catch up with Birdie last week when some of the nice folks at GreeNYC suggested that I serve as host for a high-level alumni conference with some of Birdie’s (much smaller) avian relatives at Green-Wood Cemetery. His appearance — part of a summer-long “staycation” that’s seen Birdie flocking to many interesting places in NYC — was welcomed by the resident parrots there, several of whom flew over to get a better look at the world’s largest Quaker Parrot.