Wild parrots have been spotted making homes and breeding in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, on Long Island and in New Jersey. Although these are unlikely locations to find parrots, which typically make their homes in tropical environments, they have proven they are able to survive the cold winters in the northeastern United States. In this video segment from WILD TV, scientists and bird-lovers track and observe the parrots to determine how they are learning to survive in cities and suburbs.
Animal science, environmental science
The following suggestions are best suited for elementary or middle school students using this video in an English language arts or science lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
Frame (ELA) What data, facts and ideas do you already know and have about parrots?
Focus (ELA) What new information do you learn about parrots as you view this video?
Follow Up (ELA) How does what you learned about parrots confirm what you already knew about them? And, on the other hand, how is what you knew about parrots and what you learned about them from this video contradictory? When we learn something new that contradicts what we thought we already knew about something, how do we determine what to believe?
Frame (SCI) What do parrots need to survive?
Focus (SCI) Is it possible for parrots to survive living in the cold temperatures of a northeastern winter? How?
Follow Up (SCI) Why do some animals survive best in warmer temperatures? If parrots can adapt to colder climates, is it possible that all animals can adapt to any climate? What are the possibilities?
WALI: I heard something…
JEN USCHER (BIRDWATCHER): Suddenly we heard this chirping sound and we looked up at the sky and saw all of these beautiful green parrots flying around in circles and we were just amazed that there could be wild parrots in Brooklyn.
JEN: For whatever reason they have managed to adapt to this environment that’s pretty different then where they’re from in Argentina, Bolivia and various countries in South America. So, that’s what’s so fascinating about them to me is how have they have managed to adapt.
JEN: And so, what I have been doing gradually over the last few months is just visiting all these different sites people that have told me about and taking notes and confirming for myself how many parakeets are there.
JEN: I’m trying to find out how many nests there are in Queens, I know there are some nests in Queens, and there might be nests in Long Island. There’s nests in New Jersey.
JEN: It’s thrilling, honestly, it’s like being a detective.
As were driving in the car, we’ll roll down the windows and we’re listening because these birds have a very, very distinctive kind of sharp raspy call.
JEN: Monk parakeets are probably the easiest birds that one could hope to find because they are so loud and conspicuous and colorful.
JEN: We’re generally looking at utility poles and transformers because 9 times out of 10. that’s where their nests are located.
JEN: So we’re driving along in the car and we’re listening and looking at utility poles and also of course we’re looking at the map and trying to check out spots that people have already told us where we were going to find nests.
JEN: These nests provide them shelter in the winter and I think that’s a big factor of helping them to survive.
JEN: I feel that’s it’s a mystery that nobody really knows where they come from, how thev’ve gotten here how they survive.
GIRL: You looking at the birds?
WALI: Yeah I am, what do you know about these birds?
GIRL: Well, we call them the green parrots.
JEN: My theory is that it wasn’t any one event. What probably happened is during the late 60’s and 70’s a lot of parakeets were being imported into the United States from South America and a lot of people have these pets that maybe either turned out to be a little noisier than they expected so maybe they just let the window open and let the bird go or maybe the bird got loose by accident.
MAN: What I heard and I would not swear to it is that it seems to be that there was a shipment of parakeets that came into Kennedy airport and one of the handlers, the word is, was drunk… WOMAN: One day they were not here and then suddenly all of a sudden there was a nest.
MAN: …and he dropped the crate and they all got loose.
JEN: They are always talking to each other also. They are very, very vocal.
WOMAN: There’s a language.
WOMAN W/ HAT: They can talk from 26th street to 28th street, they have their own telephone system.
JEN: Generally what we’ll write down: is the date and time that we observed birds, how many birds we see, the location of the nests, the size of the nest, maybe how many openings there are to the nest doorways and we’ll also write down any interesting behavior we observe, such as what the parakeets are eating, where the parakeets are going.
JEN: Sometimes you’ll take down notes about their vocalizations. Sometimes I’ll even draw pictures of the nests or some kind of behavior I’ve noticed. We’re also taking photographs and our hope is that over different seasons we are documenting what’s happening to each nest.
TWIN 1: Most wildlife we have is like cats and…
TWIN 2: Rats.
WALI: See that one right there is my favorite one.
GIRL: It’s a baby one.
MAN: The question most people ask me is “How do you sleep?” I live in this house right here, with them making all that noise. I say very simple, my bedroom is in the back and the front room is for guests.
JEN: They stick together, they’re very communal birds, they help each other out, they probably help each other find food, they’re always hanging out together, so because of that um I think that they are able to teach each other how to survive in the wild. They do eat at peoples’ bird feeders. So we really think that people in the neighborhood do help them to survive the winter.
MAN: Usually the same two will go into the same hole the same apartment.
JEN: There’s a lot of evidence that the monk parakeets are breeding in Brooklyn.
JEN: If you watch them they really have silly kind of funny antics and also they are very affection for each other.
WALI: Wow…oh they look like they’re kissing, see these two -
JEN: Yeah, you’re right, that’s a behavior that we observe quite often actually, these birds are really affectionate.
WALI: They really kiss?
JEN: Yes that’s something they do to sort of seal their pair bond.
WOMAN W/ HAT: I think they’re wonderful for our community.
JEN: It gives me a great feeling see to them out here in Brooklyn. I mean in the same, you know neighborhoods I live in and you know I feel like they are my neighbors and I’m really proud that they are here.
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