Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parrot Noir in Brooklyn

Yesterday, I went on a Wild Parrot Safari in Brooklyn with fellow NoirCon vets Jeff Wong and Margery Budoff. Little did I realize that I was going to be learning about a little known piece of Brooklyn history that could be called "Parrot Noir." Turns out that back in the 1960s, while the mob was opening crates at the airport that just happened to "fall off the truck," someone accidentally opened a crate of parrots from Argentina. The birds flew away and the mob covered up the incident. Over half a century later, the parrots still call Brooklyn their home.

The tour was given by Steve Baldwin, who apparently gives the tour every month. You can follow his adventures at Brooklyn Parrots.

A number of the birds have made nests in the light fixtures at a local sports field. The nests supposedly weigh over 200 pounds!

It is interesting to see how the parrots have adapted their survival instincts to the urban environment. The parrots stay mainly near the grass, where they blend in. I'm assuming this is to camouflage themselves from their main predator, hawks.

They also have made a nest in a nearby tree. I was asked not to disclose the location because, in the past, there have been poachers who have robbed the nests to sell the birds to local pet stores illegally.
The parrot up top was apparently sentry, and he watched us all very carefully when we were around. The bird on the bottom was flying around and brought back twigs and leaves to work on the nest.
Looks like the parrots are just like most everyone else in NY. They're not from around here, and they're doing what they can do everyday to get by and figure out how to call NY their home. Fifty years and running, looks like they're doing a pretty good job.


  1. Enjoyed this. Used to live outside New Haven, Connecticut, and we had them there, too. I've heard the JFK story, but had been led to believe it was apocryphal.

    There were at least two flocks of them in town, nested high in trees near LI Sound. They would fly back and forth between colonies and make a wild racket in flight. What amazed me was that they survive through the winter inside those big nests. I would not like to own a house near them. I think the noise would drive me nuts...Thanks for the great post and pics.

  2. I've seen those birds but didn't know the history. Thanks, Cullen. Great post.

  3. We've got parrots in New Orleans too. CAme in on the ships.

  4. I read about the parrots living in transmission yards and decided to check out one in my neighborhood outside Dallas. Sure enough, it was full of 'em. Wrote about it. ‎

  5. Thanks all for the comments.

    Ron -- They were certainly loud birds. Hard to avoid noise wherever you go in New York. I've been able to drown out all the street and motorcycle noise in my neighborhood. I wonder if the people near the parrots have drowned them out, too?

    Charles and Bill -- I've heard from a number of people similar stories of parrots making homes in unlikely places. Fascinating stuff!

  6. We have a flock of them in our neighborhood in Culver City, CA. Story is they escaped from LAX. Probably under similar circumstances. Loud as hell, those birds. And I think they ate all the peaches off our tree. Love to see them flying around though, perching in the palm tress.

  7. Thanks so much for writing up the Parrot Safari. Wonderful article!
    best, -steve baldwin


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