If you’d like to support my continuing efforts to give tours for the public, I invite you to check out my new e-book, The Brooklyn Parrots FAQ — a compilation of facts, observations, myths, stories, lore and my own photos of Brooklyn’s famous “boids.” The book is organized in an easy to read Q&A format (because some of the most interesting exchanges on my tours happen when people ask questions about the parrots).
While it might seem wacky that it took me almost 10 years to finish this thing, it took me a long time for me to take enough photos (more than 100 are included) and gather data to develop the material. I also had to compile almost 10 years of email messages containing crucial but forgotten info on the parrots’ journey in Brooklyn. It was a lot of work but I hope you like the results.
As you might know, my intention is never to charge a penny for a wild parrot safari in Brooklyn. It’s not that I don’t approve of paid tours of New York — I just don’t want there to be any financial barrier to enjoying these wonderful wild birds. So these tours are now and will always be free — just like the parrots!
You can download this ebook directly to your PC, iPad, or mobile device by following this link:
The New York Post ran a nice story last week entitled “Hero Pets Who Saved Human Children,” in which Willie the Quaker Parrot got some well-earned props for saving a 2-year old from choking on a Pop-Tart back in 2006.
Willie’s fast and life-saving response to a crisis has done a lot to improve the image of Quaker Parrots, which in the past haven’t always been portrayed in a positive light due to their penchant for annoying utility companies. It’s nice to see the species (which the Post correctly notes is “a particularly intelligent and chatty breed that loves to clown around”) get a bit of praise.
The study was based on observations of 29,776 Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta Monachus) flocks. It is the first study to attempt to quantify complex parrot behavior using social network analysis.
Pairs are the fundamental structural unit in monk parakeet social life. However “additional tiers of social structure, akin to social levels documented in elephants, sea lions, and dolphins, may also be present.”
Monk parakeet life is structured by aggression. The researchers noted about 4,400 aggressive events in two captive flocks studied, ” although the severity of aggression was relatively low and observed injuries rare in each group.”
Dominance hierarchies exist but these hierarchies are relatively flat. While there are always “winners” and “losers” in every social conflict, “winning” individuals don’t always win (and “losers” don’t always lose).
“Fission and fusion” (flocks splitting up and rejoining) is common.
There appears to be no vocal sharing of foraging information among disparate flocks.
The study was carried out by E.A. Hobson, M. L. Avery, and T.F. Wright. It is important because “understanding the social systems of parrots is critical to understanding social processes such as vocal learning and the spread of behaviors. Many parrot species are now threatened or endangered, and increased understanding of how they structure their social interactions could improve our ability to manage these populations.”
The findings in this report are consistent with my own observations of wild Monk Parakeet flocks in Brooklyn. I am grateful to have been invited to share photos with the researchers.