As the proprietor of BrooklynParrots.com, I was among the first to suggest to Councilman Vince Gentile that the rebuilt “Dust Bowl” be renamed to honor Brooklyn’s wild Quaker Parrots.
After all, these birds have had a tough life on Brooklyn’s streets in the 40 years or so they’ve been here. So why not do something — somewhere — to modestly honor these resourceful beasties, whose pluck, ingenuity, and loquaciousness embodies so many admirable characteristics of the Brooklynite, and whose colorful, squawky presence here adds a splash of emerald green to the gorgeous mosaic that is 21st century Brooklyn?
Not that opponents of the name change don’t have some valid points. The old “Dust Bowl” appellation has a certain appeal, harkening back to an era when Brooklyn was dotted with dusty sandlot ball fields. But the term “Dust Bowl” is also freighted with tragic overtones, recalling the misery of the Great Depression at a time when many of us are struggling to escape the steely clutches of The Great Recession.
And yes, nearly everyone in Bay Ridge knows where “the Dust Bowl” is, so why confuse them by saying “Meet me at Quaker Parrot Park?” Furthermore, why notify the entire world that wild parrots are residing in Bay Ridge? Won’t more evil parrot poachers be attracted from far and wide as a result?
Still, I must stick to my perch on this issue for three reasons. First, renaming the field “Quaker Parrot Park” or “The Parrot Bowl” will literally put Bay Ridge on the map of birders worldwide. These affluent folks will arrive, gawk and dump some much-needed cash into the neighborhood (hopefully in the great restaurants on nearby Fort Hamilton Avenue).
Second, the mere fact that there is a slight danger that an occasional parrot poacher may surface as a result of the name change can be offset by increased community vigilance. Here, low-cost technology in the form of 24/7 live “Quaker Parrot Cams” can be used to trap the poachers in the act, thus hoisting them by their own disreputable petards.
Finally, it is highly unlikely that the parrots will ever completely desert Bay Ridge. Frankly, life is just too good here for them to forsake it for the likes of Bensonhurst and beyond. They’ve got permanent digs at the field, they know where all the backyard fruit trees, gardens, and bird-feeders are, and most people — not everybody, but most people — either like them or aren’t horribly agitated by their presence in our skies.
Bay Ridge, you’ve got parrots! So why not let the world in on your grand secret?
Steve Baldwin runs the website www.brooklynparrots.com.