In the 1960s, the Argentinian government wanted to get rid of the country’s ever-increasing population of monk parakeets (A.K.A. Quaker parrots). The government offered farmers a reward if they would kill the birds and send in the creatures’ feet as proof of their death. The program was unpopular and unsuccessful, so more than 60,000 parakeets were rounded up and sold to American pet stores. The story goes that in 1967, a crate of Argentinian monk parakeets was opened by a mob underling while passing through Kennedy – then Idlewild – Airport. The birds escaped and took up residence in Brooklyn. Parrots are apparently incredibly adaptable, and so the birds made do with the foods and roosts available to them. Generations later, the colorful birds can still be found near Brooklyn College and Green-Wood Cemetery. It’s quite a story of survival!
In addition to multiple assassination attempts both here and in Argentina, the birds have had to weather the often harsh New York winters, pollution, rat poison, drones, and other hazards. And to add insult to injury, they also have to avoid the many birds of prey which seem to have a real taste for the poor parakeets. In spite of all those challenges, there are now 190 nest sites in Brooklyn alone. I guess it’s really true that if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere! Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the population isn’t in some danger.
“Monk parakeets do not migrate, and are not native, and thus are not protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so in 2010 the [Feathered Friends Parrot Adoption Services] worked with New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. to introduce “The Monk Parakeet Protection Bill,” which would provide protection for the city’s wild parakeets, while also allowing for the humane relocation of nests deemed intrusive by the Parks Department or Con Edison.”-Lenora Todaro, Catapult Magazine
You can read more about the Brooklyn parrots on the Brooklyn Parrots Society website.