These ain’t your usual pigeons perched in a tree on Campus Road near Brooklyn College.
College visitors, treated to a flash of green and a squawk, scratch their hreads in bewilderment for a minute, then cast their eyes skyward….
…and find flocks of wild parrots numbering in the thousands.
The story goes that parrots have nested in the Brooklyn Collge vicinity since the end of the 1960s. Either a couple of pet birds got loose, or a shipment of parrots from Argentina (where they are native) got lost.
In any case, the parrots have adapted brilliantly and pretty much behave just as your normal starlings, sparrows and pigeons have. After all, those birds were also at one time imported from other countries.
Forgotten fan Idria Marchisotto sent in these photos from Bensonhurst, where the parrots have set up a large community. Rock doves and other birds use the feeders.
You say that parrots are tropical birds and couldn’t survive occasional harsh NYC winters? They’re adaptable. They have developed some tricks, such as nesting near warmer power lines and transformers, which has gained them the enmity of Con Ed.
Bird fanciers know these parrots as Monks or Quaker parrots. They are regarded as highly intelligent and trainable and are very good talkers.
There are additional colonies in Valley Stream and Canarsie as well as other areas, but the flocks at Brooklyn College and East Flatbush are especially large.
Monk parrots have adapted to even colder climates. There is even a flock in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, a city that gets rather colder and snowier than NYC.
Leaving Con Ed out of it, neighborhood folks regard the birds affectionately or are so used to them that they are ignored completely.
They have been honored at this kiddie playground, however.
Adam Gopnik in New York Journal, The New Yorker Magazine, February 5, 2001