Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Brooklyn Parrots

     I always liked parrots, but now that I have my own parrot, I LOVE THEM, and slightly obsessed. I used to work with a quaker parrot (or monk parakeet, take your pick, but I tend to go with calling them quakers) when I worked for Audubon, her name was Jodi, and we bonded quite well. I loved her so much and was offered to take her home, but at the time, things were not right for that, so we parted ways - she does though have quite the good home with a coworker of mine from that time.
     Well, now that I live in Brooklyn, I am surrounded by quakers. The school I attended for my masters, Brooklyn College, is swarming with quakers. Sometimes I hear them out the window of our apartment or spot them flying overhead on the street. This evening, I made a bike ride over to the other side of Greenwood Cemetery to go photograph these adorable green balls of feathers at their home base. Enjoy:
Before seeing any of the quakers, I was distracted by this clearly upset mocking bird.
....Probably because there were three American Kestrels in the area.
The kestrels are part of the falcon family. They are the smallest falcons in the United States. They also happen to do quite well in urban environments.
Not sure, but I thought that this could be a family. This one seemed much more active than the other two. Perhaps the other two were getting lessons in how to capture prey.
The observers.
Kestrels are beautiful and one of the few raptors that are sexually dimorphic - that means the male and female look different from one another. The slate blue present on the wings tells me that this is a male kestrel.
A kestrel kerfuffel with an angry mockingbird ensues. Mockingbirds are notoriously territorial, even to the point where they will dive-bomb humans around their nesting area.

Then, the quakers arrived!
The quakers are nesting atop the main entrance on 5th avenue in Sunset Park Brooklyn.
Quakers build these large nests out of sticks. The nest is shared amongst many other pairs of quakers, allowing them to fit right into that NYC apartment living lifestyle.
The quaker is not native, they are from Argentina, in temperate regions of the country. New York also happens to be a temperate region, so these birds survive all through the winter. These birds were pets that have been released and now colonize many places within NYC. They were believed to have arrived in in the late 1960's to early '70's.

Not going to lie, I love having these guys in Brooklyn!

These birds don't cause too much trouble for the native species, as they do not use trees for nesting, they would rather use man-made structures. They are more of a problem to some people because nests that are built on transformers or electrical poles can sometimes catch fire and cause power outages.
The quakers parrot gets its name because of a common behavior involving quaking or bobbing the head. Many of the parrots further back on the lower branch they were doing this and getting fed by other individuals.

Psst.... I think we're being watched...
Some purple finches... I think.

Caught the kestrels flying by again, I loved this one against the clouds.
Quaker parrots will sometimes allow their fledged young to stick around and help tend to the nest and help with rearing siblings. 

Originally, when these birds arrived to historic Greenwood Cemetery the grounds crew tried to get rid of these birds and their huge nests. With time, it was decided that they could stay, for two reasons: first being, they keep away the pigeons and second, their droppings have no ill effect on the brownstone structure that is the entrance to the grounds, pigeon droppings had awful effects on the brownstone, so essentially, these quakers are helping to preserve the structure, in a weird way.
     If you are interested in seeing the Quakers, they are easy to find, go to Greenwood Cemetery and enter at 5th Avenue and 25th Street. Their nest is on the arch as you enter. You don't need to go far to find quakers, just follow your ears, they are loud and most likely nearby.