Wild on Long Island: Parrots

Walking through Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick, Long Island, NY, a pair of Monk Parakeets crossed my path.  No, not somebody’s pet birds, but wild parrots. They live here in the New York Metro area, including Long Island, but I don’t see them often. The only other time I’ve seen them was at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, where a colony of Monk Parakeets nest in the gatehouse’s Gothic spires. (Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historical Landmark and a well-known spot for birding.)

New York Audubon’s web site offers some history on how these South American birds came to live in New York:

“…These blue-green parrots, native to the mountainous regions of Argentina, are classified as released exotics. Legend has it that the now-wild birds escaped in the 1960s when a crate of caged monk parakeet broke open at JFK airport. Our winters are similar to those in the Andes, so they have thrived, nesting on the lighting fixtures at the Brooklyn College athletic field as well as on the highest spire of the main entrance gatehouse here [Green-Wood Cemetery]. The parrot’s catchy name comes from the patch of gray on its head resembling a monk’s cap.”

Here’s a photo of one of the parakeets I saw at Levy Preserve on June 2, 2014:

Monk Parakeet (Quaker Parrot)

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