Thursday, June 3, 2010

Parrot Bill Not Seen As Bird-Brained by Domenick Rafter - Queens Tribune

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The Monk Parakeet, native to Argentina, has thrived in the wild here in New York City.

Some state legislators and activists are working together to gain protected status for a popular species of parrot that is native to South America and has made a home for itself here in Queens.

Legislation currently proposed in Albany would grant protected status to the Monk Parakeet, also known as the Quaker Parrot, a species of parakeet that lives in Queens and at least two other boroughs.

Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is sponsoring legislation in the State Senate that would amend the environmental conservation law to protect the birds from harm, poaching and unnecessary nest takedowns. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is sponsoring the bill in the State Assembly.

The City Council is proposing a resolution calling on the State to designate the Monk Parakeet as a protected species. Former Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) initially introduced the resolution in 2009.

The bills were the brainchild of Barry Schwartz, President of Feathered Friends Parrot Adoption Services; a not-for-profit parrot rescue/adoption organization based in Maspeth. Schwartz said the New York Invasive Species Council released a report recently on invasive species in the state and it listed the Monk Parakeet as a non-native, but non-dangerous invasive species. He said the legislation is coming after reports of attacks on Monk Parakeet nesting areas in Brooklyn and Queens.

“The [Monk Parakeet] does not pose any danger to humans or other life,” Schwartz said.

Dealers aiming to sell the birds as pets introduced the birds, which are native to Argentina, to the area starting in the 1960s. The birds then escaped or were purposely set free.

“The parts of South America where these birds come from are similar in climate to the Catskills,” Schwartz said.

The birds have been spotted nesting in Whitestone and College Point, as well as Throggs Neck in the Bronx, Schwartz said. They have an especially well-known colony in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where they have nested in the cemetery’s main gate for decades.

Another bill being proposed in Albany and championed by Schwartz would seek to make sure that pet birds are not sold before being fully weaned.