It’s a saga that brings tears to the eyes.

Years ago, back in the late 1960’s or 1970’s, some imported Argentinian parrots arrived in the US and set up housekeeping in Brooklyn, a section of New York famous for their immigrant neighborhoods.

How the Quaker Parrots got there is not known: theories range from being blown there by a hurricane to someone inadvertently opening a box at one of the nearby airports, and instead of finding contraband drugs or liquor, they found live parrots, who promptly flew the coop.

And, like other immigrants, they established families, who had more families…all over Brooklyn, despite Federal attempts to eradicate them. But it didn’t work.

BrooklynParrots website explains:

In 1973,… the Federal eradication teams, having achieved most of their parrot suppression efforts, approached one of the last remaining parrot strongholds, a nest complex on Rikers Island, Queens. After loading their guns and preparing their nets, a forward observation team reported disturbing news: the parrots had withdrawn and evidently disappeared into the fog….It will never be known whether the Rikers Island Parrots were “tipped off” by “someone on the inside” that the Feds were gunning for them. But it is likely that many of the birds we find today in Queens, the Bronx, and elsewhere are directly related to the survivors of the Great Rikers Island Monk Parrot Standoff.

The parrots, like other birds, sometimes are pesty and annoying, but the major problem is their nesting habits: the parrots build huge nests that allow the parrots to stay warm through the cold North American winter, but the tendency for the birds to use warm powerlines or electrical equipment instead of trees to build their nests has caused problems. Usually the nests have to be removed by workers, but at least six fires (plus neighborhood blackouts) have been caused by the birds.

So what should one do? Should the birds again be eradicated as a potentially dangerous foreign species, or should it be protected as any other local birds, many of which also originate elsewhere?

A local politician, Tony Avella,  has proposed legislation that would protect the parrots and mandate that their nests be removed gently and relocated elsewhere outside of mating season so that the baby parrots won’t be harmed.

So, endangered species or dangerous pest?
BrooklynParrots website has more information about the parrots, including videos for your enjoyment. Or you can watch the Ballad of the Brooklyn Parrots on YOUTUBE.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is FinestKind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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