8. The Wild Parrots of Brooklyn
Image courtesy Brooklyn Parrots
The tale of the wild Brooklyn parrot, one of the most surprising finds in the borough, begins in Argentina. The bright green sub-tropical birds go by a few names – the Quaker Parrot, the Monk Parakeet or its Latin name Myiopsitta monachus – and have been in New York for over 40 years. Considered a pest to farmers in Argentina, the Quaker Parrot survived first an attempt at extermination in its home country, then an exportation scheme as exotic birds to the United States, whereupon flocks made their escape from shipping containers, pet stores and owners.
The best way to see the parrots is through a monthly free tour run by Steven Baldwin, who estimates there are 150 Quaker Parrots in Brooklyn today. He does these “safaris” for awareness, hoping that the more people know about these parrots, the more they will see them as “part of the gorgeous mosaic of Brooklyn.” To prevent poachers, who have come to capture the birds, he tells guests to keep the location secret. “I like to spread the word one by one,” he says.
Though the parrots are more famous for roosting in Green-Wood Cemetery, the location where you can see the parrots most up-close is on a leafy residential street in Flatbush. The birds relocated here after changes were made to the landscape at their previous residence at Brooklyn College (though you can still see some nests in the lights above the athletic field).
Neighbors have taken to the parrots and protect the birds by allowing for the creative nests to grow in street trees. Used to the four seasons, the Quaker Parrots stay in New York City all year round. Baldwin gives tours on the first Saturday of every month, alternating between Flatbush and Green-Wood Cemetery.
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