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Who is Stealing the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn?
Monday, October 10 2005 @ 11:28 PM UTC
Contributed by: brooklynparrots
Views: 8497
General News The poachers arrived around 2:00 AM, travelling on bicycles so that sleeping residents did not hear their stealthy approach. They parked their bikes and the leader climbed up the Con Ed power pole until he was within arms' reach of the wild parrot nest. He threw a net over the nest, captured several terrified parrots, and handed down his quarry to a second man, who stuffed the birds into a carrier. The poachers remounted their bikes, rode a few blocks East, climbed another pole, and repeated their operation. Then the thieves were gone, departing as quietly as they had arrived.

The next morning, most residents of Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, and Marine Park went about their business, oblivious to the fact that the wild parrots which once seemed so numerous now seemed so few. But Bob, who's lived in the neighborhood for many years and enjoys watching these colorful, playful birds, knew something was wrong.

"You used to see parrots all over the neighborhood," Bob told BrooklyParrots.com, "but lots of nests are now empty. My neighbor saw the whole thing -- the poachers don't care that they're stealing a whole family and breaking it up. For them, it's just about money, and I think it's disgusting."

Others are not so sure that the depopulation of wild parrots in South Brooklyn is due merely to poaching. One source, who prefers to remain anonmyous but lives in Midwood, which has seen its wild parrot nests along Avenue I grow silent in recent weeks, told us that wild Quaker parrots in Brooklyn are so hyper-vigilant that they'd never let a human - even a stealthy, nocturnal one - near their nests. "These birds can see 360 degrees and they'd hear an intruder long before he got close and fly away. I really doubt that much serious parrot poaching is going on in Brooklyn. I think what's happening here is a migration. But it's theoretically possible that, if a gang were really well organized and knew what it was doing, they could clear out the whole population within a couple of weeks. They might be capturing them, packing them, and shipping them all over the country."

Remarkably, birdnapping of wild parrots, whether organized or not, is not a crime in New York State. Under state law, wild Quaker Parrots, an unprotected species regarded as a pest in many other states, can be "taken" at any time. The parrot thieves may be using this legal loophole to make a fantastic profit without fear of legal reprisal. Wild Quaker Parrots, whether they come from breeders or birdnappers, are legal to sell in New York State, and at local pet stores, baby Quakers can command up to $300 a bird. If a crew of birdnappers were to raid just three nests, seizing nine birds (Quakers often nest in threes), they could realize a profit of $900 a night, given that the pet stores might be willing to buy each bird for $100.

And nobody, except for Bob, seems to have any problem with what the thieves are doing. "I've talked to the police and they don't care, I've called local politicians and they don't care. I've talked to the Park Rangers in Gateway Park and they say there's nothing they can do. This bird is completely unprotected, and nobody gives a damn." "Have you called Marty Markowitz?" we asked Bob. "Forget about it," he said. "The only thing Marty cares about is having his picture taken."

Just as poaching endangers one of the great natural wonders of Brooklyn, this practice threatens the lives of the poachers themselves. As Con Ed linemen know very well, the parrots build their nests in high-voltage power lines, and a single slip in the dead of night is likely to result in a well-fried poacher. Con Ed, whose offices BrooklynParrots.com tried to contact this Monday, was closed for Columbus Day, but it is presumed that the utility company would look askance at humans clamboring over its power infrastructure for any reason.

Could poaching threaten to eliminate the wild Quaker parrot population, which has been established in Brooklyn since the early 1970's? Well, it's unlikely. In some parts of Brooklyn, notably Brooklyn College, the wild parrot nests are on private property where security guards watch very carefully for signs of poaching. But on public streets and in city parks, where many parrots live in pole nests, they're especially vulnerable to poachers, and this situation is unlikely to change soon.

"The real problem," said Bob, "is the pet stores. They're obviously buying these stolen birds, and they don't seem to care where they come from. If we could stop the stores from selling Quakers, we could stop people from stealing them," a thought that might strike Quaker parrot owners as harsh, given that New York is a "Quaker friendly" state, meaning that it's legal to buy them and own them.

"The wild parrots are one of the best things about Brooklyn," said Bob, "and now the thieves are trying to steal this treasure. But there are only a few people in Brooklyn who care about the birds, or about nature. People are just too greedy and self-involved."The next morning, most residents of Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, and Marine Park went about their business, oblivious to the fact that the wild parrots which once seemed so numerous now seemed so few. But Bob, who's lived in the neighborhood for many years and enjoys watching these colorful, playful birds, knew something was wrong.

"You used to see parrots all over the neighborhood," Bob told BrooklyParrots.com, "but lots of nests are now empty. My neighbor saw the whole thing -- the poachers don't care that they're stealing a whole family and breaking it up. For them, it's just about money, and I think it's disgusting."

Others are not so sure that the depopulation of wild parrots in South Brooklyn is due merely to poaching. One source, who prefers to remain anonmyous but lives in Midwood, which has seen its wild parrot nests along Avenue I grow silent in recent weeks, told us that wild Quaker parrots in Brooklyn are so hyper-vigilant that they'd never let a human - even a stealthy, nocturnal one - near their nests. "These birds can see 360 degrees and they'd hear an intruder long before he got close and fly away. I really doubt that much serious parrot poaching is going on in Brooklyn. I think what's happening here is a migration. But it's theoretically possible that, if a gang were really well organized and knew what it was doing, they could clear out the whole population within a couple of weeks. They might be capturing them, packing them, and shipping them all over the country."

Remarkably, birdnapping of wild parrots, whether organized or not, is not a crime in New York State. Under state law, wild Quaker Parrots, an unprotected species regarded as a pest in many other states, can be "taken" at any time. The parrot thieves may be using this legal loophole to make a fantastic profit without fear of legal reprisal. Wild Quaker Parrots, whether they come from breeders or birdnappers, are legal to sell in New York State, and at local pet stores, baby Quakers can command up to $300 a bird. If a crew of birdnappers were to raid just three nests, seizing nine birds (Quakers often nest in threes), they could realize a profit of $900 a night, given that the pet stores might be willing to buy each bird for $100.

And nobody, except for Bob, seems to have any problem with what the thieves are doing. "I've talked to the police and they don't care, I've called local politicians and they don't care. I've talked to the Park Rangers in Gateway Park and they say there's nothing they can do. This bird is completely unprotected, and nobody gives a damn." "Have you called Marty Markowitz?" we asked Bob. "Forget about it," he said. "The only thing Marty cares about is having his picture taken."

Just as poaching endangers one of the great natural wonders of Brooklyn, this practice threatens the lives of the poachers themselves. As Con Ed linemen know very well, the parrots build their nests in high-voltage power lines, and a single slip in the dead of night is likely to result in a well-fried poacher. Con Ed, whose offices BrooklynParrots.com tried to contact this Monday, was closed for Columbus Day, but it is presumed that the utility company would look askance at humans clamboring over its power infrastructure for any reason.

Could poaching threaten to eliminate the wild Quaker parrot population, which has been established in Brooklyn since the early 1970's? Well, it's unlikely. In some parts of Brooklyn, notably Brooklyn College, the wild parrot nests are on private property where security guards watch very carefully for signs of poaching. But on public streets and in city parks, where many parrots live in pole nests, they're especially vulnerable to poachers, and this situation is unlikely to change soon.

"The real problem," said Bob, "is the pet stores. They're obviously buying these stolen birds, and they don't seem to care where they come from. If we could stop the stores from selling Quakers, we could stop people from stealing them," a thought that might strike Quaker parrot owners as harsh, given that New York is a "Quaker friendly" state, meaning that it's legal to buy them and own them.

"The wild parrots are one of the best things about Brooklyn," said Bob, "and now the thieves are trying to steal this treasure. But there are only a few people in Brooklyn who care about the birds, or about nature. People are just too greedy and self-involved."


  


Who is Stealing the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn? | 2 comments | Create New Account
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Who is Stealing the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn?
Authored by: topogito on Thursday, December 01 2005 @ 04:38 AM UTC
I live in Brooklyn, Dykerheights to be exact and I miss those parrots I use to watch them nest and they would whistle real pretty like. I hope they come back and stay they were nice to have around just as is any rare bird in Brooklyn. They deserve respect for making it out in the wild. We need more bird and nature lovers in this world like Bob. Thumbs Up Bob!!!

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Who is Stealing the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn?
Authored by: fly free on Friday, February 17 2006 @ 06:50 PM UTC
Perhaps if people did not bring attention to the parrots, these things would be less likely to happen. By organizing tours, bringing cameras and writing about them extensively you are pointing out where they live, play and raise families. You have created a circus-like atmosphere for these monk parakeets. It is to be expected that now they are being exploited and vandalized.

---
Fly Free

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