Parrots please! copyright by the author, Frania Shelley-Grielen
In a prior column I discussed the issues in keeping captive parrots. In this one let’s consider some of the issues of wild parrots, as they exist today.
The last native parrots in the United States were reportedly seen in the 1920’s in the case of the Thick-billed parrot, which was native to Southeastern Arizona and in the 30’s in the case of the Carolina Parakeet, which was native to the Carolinas. Both parrot species were eradicated from human pressures, for instance, Thick-billed parrots were hunted to extinction in Arizona by prospectors and settlers pushing westward (the parrots still exist in Mexico but continue to face human pressures as the old growth forests theyinhabit fall to logging).
Today, the United States is home to a number of feral parrot populations, from a number of sources. In our tri-state area, the Quaker Parrot or Monk Parakeet has taken up what would seem to be a permanent residence, if we allow them. A March 22, 2009 Connecticut edition of The New York Times article reported that United Illuminating, the local power company, is continuing to struggle with how to co-exist with the birds.
The parrots are colony nesters with the usual nest containing up to 20 pairs of parrot parents and offspring and totaling up to 440 pounds. And, you guessed it; the parrots like to build their nests next to transformers in electric poles. In 2005 United Illuminating attempted to deal with the problem by turning over the errant birds tothe USDA which in turn exterminated the birds. The resulting controversy has resulted in lawsuits and controversy. Attempts to relocate the birds to other nesting sites have been unsuccessful.
A major appeal for monk parakeets and transformers is the heat the transformer affords. Highway road signs are frequently powered by solar sources, some sort of heat source on an alternative nesting platform might actually appeal to the birds and everyone might be happy. The parrots are not using the alternative platforms because they are not equal to the platforms the transformers offer, they have no heat source or cross beams, providing warmth and structural integrity to build nests and raise young. A simple fix remedies the matter by providing a choice of warm, stable platforms which the birds prefer and are willing to use. It is not enough just to build another platform; it has to be one that works for the birds as well. A necessary solution must be found in order to accommodate the needs of human and non-human animals. This kind of thinking, where the needs and practicalities are thought out, works for both parrot and people.
Monk Parakeets are also found in the New York City area and legislation has been introduced to the New York City Council to protect the birds in both the city and state of New York. San Francisco has already enacted similar legislation.
For more info: www.brooklynparrots.com is a great source of information on quaker parrots in the tri-state area (especially Brooklyn).
Letters of support for NYC legislation to: Council Member, Tony Avella, 250 Broadway, 17th Floor,NY, NY 10007.
Questions? Like an individual consultation? Contact us.
cFrania Shelley-GrielenThese captive thick-billed parrots live at the WCS Queens Zoo in Corona, New York. Thick-billed parrots are one of two parrot species that were once native to the United States.
"Monk Parakeets are also found in the New York City area and legislation has been introduced to the New York City Council to protect the birds in both the city and state of New York. San Francisco has already enacted similar legislation".
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copyright 2011 Frania Shelley-Grielen
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