NJ wild parrots in the media spotlight

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Wild Monk Paraekeet, Edgewater, NJ. Photo by BrooklynParrots.com

NorthJersey.com reports this week on the progress of the various tribes of wild Quaker Parrots in New Jersey to move westward. According to the report, by Jim Wright, the parrots are now actively nesting “in Fort Lee, Fairview, Cliffside Park, Englewood, Ridgefield, Leonia and, most recently, Secaucus.” All of these areas are situated to the south/southwest of the parrots’ traditional stomping grounds of Edgewater, where hundreds of Quaker Parrots have resided for many years.

The article does not make reference to the causes which originally brought the parrots to New Jersey, which remain obscure and perhaps unknowable, even to those who, like this reporter, claim to know their story. Multiple anecdotal reports attributing the parrots’ arrival to bankrupt pet stores, sinking barges, breached containers at the old SeaLand terminal in Weehawken, or mass avian migrations across the Hudson River have never been substantiated. However it is known that the parrots have been active in the Garden State since the early 1970s; in fact these original tribes were the targets of the famous (some would say infamous) 1973 multi-agency eradication campaign which nearly resulted in this species’ elimination in the Northeast.

Scott Barnes, a spokesman for New Jersey Audubon, notes in the article that while the birds are “a non-native introdued species that can be problematic to electric transmission, one has to admire the birds’ tenacity for hanging on in several locations in New Jersey for decades.” This sympathetic statement is a major departure from prior statements form NJ Audubon, whose chief once remarked that “the only solution to these birds is to send them back to Argentina.”

Allison Evans-Fragale — a great friend to the NJ parrots with whom this reporter has worked — is mentioned in this story, as is Karen Johnson, a spokesman for PSE&G, the local utility charged with maintenance of the power lines upon which the wild parrots often build nests. PSE&G, in its encounters with the parrots, has consistently demonstrated sensitivity both to the parrots and community members in New Jersey who, over the years, have grown to like them.

Read complete article on NorthJersey.com:
http://www.northjersey.com/community-news/recreation/colorful-colonists-pose-a-dilemma-1.1358290

Two large wild parrot nests demolished on Staten Island

Wild Monk Parakeet Nest, New York City
Wild Monk Parakeet Nest, New York City

A correspondent informs me that two large wild parrot nests were recently demolished on Staten Island in the vicinity of the westward approach to the Verrazono Bridge. The nests had been constructed upon power transmission lines belonging to Con Edison. According to my source, Con Ed workers reportedly took care to remove at least seven eggs remaining in the nest, but the disposition of these eggs remains uncertain. The six adult residents of the nest were dispersed; no effort was made to capture or harm them.

Wild parrots have had a difficult time colonizing Staten Island over the years. The multi-agency eradication campaigns of the 1970s were quite successful, and sightings have been comparatively rare since then. Staten Island is, of course, an island and parrots of this kind (Myopsitta Monachus) have an aversion to flying over large bodies of water, effectively isolating the birds from fellows of their species residing in Brooklyn.

While my correspondent (who likes the birds) was greatly aggrieved by this removal, I tried to make it clear to him that this removal was by no means a “worst practice” example of nest removal. Con Ed in this case did have a bird specialist on hand, workers evidently acted carefully, and the removals were done at a time of year in which the adult birds would have enough warm months ahead of them to survive and hopefully rebuild somewhere else. At the same time, however, it’s important to note that removing a nest while eggs and or young birds are in situ is not ideal; my hope is that in the future Con Ed more carefully times such removals to take account of the birds’ breeding cycle in the same way that its utility neighbor, PSE&G does.

My correspondent notes that wildlife appears to currently be under seige in his part of the island. Developers reportely felled 500 large trees to make way for condomiums, reducing the greenspace and scattering the local animals.

For more information on the various attempts to eradicate this species of wild parrot from New York State, see: Why Did New York Try to Eradicate Them?, an excerpt from the Brooklyn Parrots FAQ eBook.

What do you do with four homeless baby owls?

Up in Milton, Massachussettes, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum had a big problem this past may when four baby owls were ejected out of their nest by high winds. Fortunately, the museum’s staff had a lot of experience with this kind of problem, having placed more than 3,000 young hawks and owls into foster nets over the years.

After a little Yankee ingenuity — in the form of a new nest box affixed to an adjacen tree — was employed, the owlets’ parents happily moved in. Now all appears well for the young ones. You can read the complete story here: http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/blue-hills-trailside-museum

Massachussetes Audubon has a great guide for people who happen upon a baby bird who’s fallen out of the nest. Check it out: http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/baby-birds-out-of-the-nest 

All the invading animals…

Wild Quaker Parrots in New York area, photo by Stephen C. Baldwin
All Media New York surveys the wide range of unusual animals who’ve made New York City home over the years. In addition to our charismatic wild Quaker Parrots, they include turkeys and bald eagles (Staten Island), chipmunks and rabbits (Brooklyn), and bats (Manhattan). As the author notes, flying squirrels, red foxes, salamanders, and the occasional wandering coyote can also be found.
Diversity — among humans and the animal kingdom alike — remains one of this city’s greatest charms.

Read complete story: http://www.allmediany.com/articles/26917-6-wild-animals-you-had-no-idea-live-in-nyc

Brooklyn Parrots Interviewed for Elliot Malkin’s People Podcast Project

I am very grateful to Elliot Malkin, who produces The People Podcast, for interviewing me about the wild parrots of Brooklyn. You can listen to the interview right here by clicking the “play button” below.

You can also visit Elliot’s site and listen to some wonderful interviews with interesting people: it’s at: http://www.thepeoplepodcast.com/