Councilman Vincent Gentile took Dyker Heights parrots under his wing when he postponed a park renovation that could have caused the worst egg accident since Humpty Dumpty’s infamous fall.
The Democratic pol played mother hen – err, mother parrot – earlier this year when he delayed uprooting parrot colonies from light fixtures above the so-called “Dust Bowl” in Leif Ericson Park — until baby birds were old enough to fly.
Removing nests from lights is a necessary part of a $2.8 million renovation project that will turn the dingy sandlot at corner of Eighth Avenue and 65th Street into an artificial turf field — but it would have been a humanitarian disaster if it had been done before the young birds could fly away, parrot lovers told The Brooklyn Paper.
“Keeping these birds alive isn’t easy for humans – you have to feed them every three hours!” said Steve Baldwin, who first reported the story on his blog, Brooklyn Parrots (www.brookl
“We were trying to influence the powers that be to at least delay this work until the baby birds fledge and they are out of the nests,” the avian expert added.
It seems that Baldwin’s requests reached the right ears, because Gentile hatched an idea to delay removing nests until September, when parrot experts say the young birds will be able to fly to a safe spot and stay with their parents until work is completed.
The councilman also made sure that the rehabbed lighting fixtures would include similar perches, so his fine-feathered friends can safely rebuild their colonies.
“The project as it was originally designed would not have ensured that the parrots were kept safe, and it didn’t ensure that they would have a home once the project is complete,” said Dena Libner, a spokeswoman for Gentile.
“The parrots are an interesting — and literally colorful — part of this area,” she added. “It’s exciting to be able to preserve a very unique aspect of this district and at the same time, bring a much needed project to the community.”
Baldwin celebrated the decision as a feather-brained scheme – in the best way!
“They’ll get by,” said Baldwin. “Chances are, they’ll just wait around until the work is finished, then rebuild.”
The neon green birds – which originally came from Argentina - have long been a subject of fascination in Brooklyn.
The birds likely settled in the borough after escaping from a container at JFK Airport in the 1960s, according to bird experts.
Since then, the fowl – which are officially known as monk parakeets or wild quaker parrots — have built nests around the borough, maintained their population by welcoming escaped domestic parrots, and survived on a diet of mainly grass and bird feed.
For years, a colony with between 30 and 40 members has lived above the Dust Bowl, Baldwin said.
“I don’t mean to knock Brooklyn‘s many pigeons, but parrots have something extra,” said Baldwin. “They lend a sort of exotic quality to Brooklyn and they’re a great way to introduce people to the concept that wildlife isn’t just in Yosemite Park or the preserves – it’s all around us.”
While these parrots are known to speak – and sing! – they did not respond coherently to repeated interview requests by a Brooklyn Paper reporter.
©2009 Community News Group
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