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Why is There a Thriving Population of Wild Parrots in The Bronx?

Not for nothing is New York City dubbed the concrete jungle, with thousands of square miles of pavement of various types covering the city, ranging from freshly-poured and quickly graffitied cement sidewalks to cobblestones dating back to the 1800s. It is not a literal jungle, but do you know why a population of wild parrots is thriving in the Bronx? 

The Bronx has a thriving population of wild parrots. These parrots were introduced to the area as pets, but they have since made it their home by building nests on the warm lights found on baseball fields. They have since spread throughout the boroughs and even into Manhattan.

The Parrot Sanctuary

Wildlife in New York City is frequently in the news. Whether it’s the heartwarming return of humpback whales to the Hudson River, the tenacity of peregrine falcons in skyscraper nests, or the shameless determination of the pizza rat, it’s these animals’ admirable ability to coexist with humans and their scarcity that captures our attention and empathy. Yet, unbeknownst to most New Yorkers, another animal has infiltrated the city, with unexpected results. Some refer to them as Quaker parrots, while others refer to them as monk parakeets. Unlike the city’s pigeons and raccoons, these birds have traveled a long distance.

Monk parakeets are native to Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, where they live in temperate and subtropical climates. They’re bowling pin-sized and gleam a vibrant green, with a pale chest, crown, and forehead that resembles nature’s punk-rock monk. Their presence in New York has caused problems in recent decades when their elaborate nests built on electrical equipment cause power outages. However, there is little danger of these cunning and resourceful birds taking over the city. Utility companies send out special teams to keep birds off their equipment, and the parrots have become a much-welcome addition to New York’s wildlife scene. (Source: 1000 Birds)

The Parrot Landing

The details surrounding the birds’ arrival in the United States have become an urban legend. Workers at JFK International Airport reported in the 1960s that pet parrots escaped from broken shipping crates left unattended in the cargo area. Others claim the birds fled their homes or were deliberately released by their owners, some of whom may have been unprepared to deal with the birds’ screeching calls. Within the last five years, the birds have infiltrated all five boroughs of New York, including Staten Island. They have also expanded into the lower Hudson Valley and major cities throughout the United States. (Source: 1000 Birds)

How Are the Parrots Affecting the Environment?Unfortunately, the parrots’ proclivity for erecting these flammable fortresses on utility equipment can result in their homes catching fire and knocking out the power grid. Con Edison, New York City’s energy services company, discovered about 14 years ago that these nests were to blame for a string of power outages in Brooklyn. The company works with wildlife experts to carefully remove nests from high-risk areas before they become a safety hazard. (Source: Discover Magazine)

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