Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Wild Parrot Safari in NYC

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Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Image: Magnus Manske, 10 May 2008, Wikipedia [larger view]

Even though NYC is located in the armpit of hell where, during the summers, the air is a humid miasma of fetid human sweat and decomposing dog shit, and the winters possess the cold and wind of Antarctica with none of its natural charms, there is a brave group of illegal aliens who not only live here, but are actually thriving. Who are these illegals? They are Quaker parrots, also known as Monk or Grey-Breasted parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus.

And if you live in or near NYC, or are visiting the Big Apple on 12 September, you can meet these personable little parrots as they wander tirelessly through their NYC home in the borough of Brooklyn (the day after you’ve participated in another local nature event; the NYC Area Cricket Crawl). For your convenience, this safari has been broken into several sections so you can either tag along for the entire thing, or just part of it. [NOTE: these parrots are actually not wild at all. Because their ancestors were domesticated pets that either escaped or were so rudely abandoned by their selfish and inconsiderate owners, these birds are actually considered to be feral.]

What: Wild Parrot Safari — First Section
Where: entrance to Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY [map]
Date: 12 September 2009
When: 1100 to 1330

What: Wild Parrot Safari — Second Section
Where: Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY [map]
Date: 12 September 2009
When: 1330 to 1500

Cost: Free!!
Supplies needed: photo ID; binoculars; camera; hat/sunscreen; bird seed, such as peanut hearts, sunflower seeds, millet or other nutritional birdseed (no french fries or — god forbid — bread!); snacks or water for yourself.
Caution: DO NOT WEAR ORANGE! The color orange mysteriously frightens the parrots and scaring the birds away will result in you being unceremoniously dropped head-first into the nearest dumpster.

Read More About it: Brooklyn Parrots website.

Comments

  1. #1 Firebyrd
    August 30, 2009

    Would they really be considered feral? My understanding is the only parrots considered to be domesticated are budgies and cockatiels due to how long they’ve been bred in captivity. It’s only been, what, fifteen years since the importation ban was enacted. It’s entirely possible that members of this flock were wild caught, and even if they weren’t, they’re most likely only one or two generations from wild caught birds. That’s not really domesticated, which is why so many humans have such a hard time forming working relationships with parrots.

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    August 30, 2009

    actually, there are nearly as many definitions of what constitutes “domesticated” as there are people making these definitions. i should have clarified: the definition i was referring when making that statement was the one where the establishment of stable color morphs in a captive population is a marker of “domestication.”

    of course, i am not particularly attached to this specific definition and therefore, am not ready to duel anyone to protect it, but it is useful since it is unambiguous. i am not really sure when any particular species crosses the boundary from wild to “domesticated” although the establishment of one particular color morph — albino — in the captive population makes an interesting and in many cases, compelling, argument.

  3. #3 Michelle
    August 30, 2009

    Ah, I love these guys. We have several populations here in Chicago, and the incongruity of their presence never fails to make my day when I see them.

  4. #4 Firebyrd
    August 31, 2009

    Interesting. I hadn’t realized the definition was so flexible, particularly with the way people with parrots so hard to impress upon people that parrots are wild animals, full stop.