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Brooklyn power company wrestles with monk parrots
Wednesday, May 12 2004 @ 12:17 PM UTC
Contributed by: MikeSchindlinger
Views: 12708
General News Polly Gets a Crackdown
By Denise Flaim
Staff Writer
February 9, 2003

Talk about ruffled feathers. In the past couple of weeks, bird activists have been in a flap about rumors that Con Edison planned to trap wild Quaker parrots living in 65 large communal nests on power lines and transformers throughout south Brooklyn.

Polly Gets a Crackdown
By Denise Flaim
Staff Writer
February 9, 2003

"They're out there, they're making it, and they do need to live,” said Kay Martin, 62, of Brooklyn, of the feral green birds, adding that a Quaker parrot she named "Kewpie” visits the suet feeder in her Gravesend backyard daily.

Native to South America, Quaker parrots, also called Monk parakeets, are noisy, hardy, foot-long birds that have colonized Eastern and Southern states, often pets who escape or are released. They build their communal nests, which can weigh more than a ton, on transformers because the units are a heat source.

While Con Edison initially considered capturing and sending the birds to federal research facilities, spokesman Chris Olert said that was no longer an option.

Instead, he said, during the winter Con Edison will not capture the birds and will remove only those nests that have "the most potential for fire.” Removal of the nests has been an "ongoing” process for the utility company, he said, and has the support of Community Board 15, among others.

"The nests are a threat to the reliability of the electrical system,” Olert said. "They have caused fires in the past,” though he could not provide details. In addition, "the birds carry respiratory diseases, and the nests attract lice and other parasites.”

But removing the nests is not a permanent solution, since the highly territorial birds tend to simply rebuild them within weeks.

"We're continuing to monitor research that's going on around the country and see what other utilities do,” Olert said.

The Quaker parrot -- formally known as Myiopsitta monachus -- is the only parrot species that builds nests, rather than excavating them. More than a half-dozen states, including New Jersey, ban the bird's sale or ownership because it is considered a crop pest. The Brooklyn birds are thought to be descended from a group of parrots that escaped from a shipping crate at Kennedy Airport in 1968.

Sybil Erden, coordinator of national rescue for The Avian Welfare Coalition, said relocating the Brooklyn birds is a viable option. She said The Oasis Sanctuary, her 72-acre bird sanctuary in the wilderness outside Benson, Ariz., "would be more than happy to develop a habitat” for the birds. "If we were given a few weeks, I'm sure we could find foster homes for these birds. And none of them would be re-released.”

Barbara Friedman of Montauk, a member of the Quaker Parakeet Society, called the Brooklyn situation "an extremely hard call.” Timing the nest removals in winter is ideal, she said, "because there probably will not be any eggs or babies.” Quakers, she added, "are not the quietest birds on the planet, and I'm sure some people in the neighborhood are going, ‘Hurray.'”

Even Quaker lover Martin admitted that "they really don't belong in Brooklyn, as gorgeous as they are and as privileged as I feel when Kewpie comes to my backyard.”

But Michael Schindlinger, a doctoral candidate in biology at Harvard University who spent three years in Mexico studying and filming wild Amazon parrots, fondly recalled a field trip he led last year for members of the Big Apple Bird Association. The destination was Flatbush and the streets around Brooklyn College, which has a large Quaker colony.

"There we were on Avenue I, gawking at the nests on these power lines,” he said, "and little kids were walking by and telling us stories of the parrots of the neighborhood.

"The birds are actually celebrated there,” he said, pointing out that a nearby playground was decorated with a frieze of metal parrots, "and it's kind of amazing that more New Yorkers don't know about them. They definitely lend an air of joy right in the heart of the city.”


Brooklyn power company wrestles with monk parrots | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Brooklyn power company wrestles with monk parrots
Authored by: mhcamire on Tuesday, June 01 2004 @ 06:11 AM UTC
Does anyone know all the States that Quakers are outlawed or where I could find this information?

Prattville, AL

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