A flash of green, a shrill squawk. No, you’re not in a jungle and nope, those aren’t your typical sparrows and pigeons in the trees – they’re Monk parakeets, a type of bright green parrot you probably wouldn’t expect so see in the city streets. Grab the kiddo because it’s time for a wild parrot safari right in Brooklyn. You’ll tour the streets of NYC that you thought you knew so well, learn something new and fascinating and spot lots of bright green birds in local parks and playgrounds. Read on to discover where and when you can find these unusual urban birds.

74273700_7e8eee33ef_o Photo credit: Steve Baldwin via Flickr, used with permission

The Local Safari Adventure You Have to Try

The free wild parrot safari tours can usually be found at the Brooklyn College campus on the first Saturday of the month. Fellow urban explorers gather at the College’s Hillel Place at 11 a.m. If you can’t find it, just ask around: the safari guide Steve Baldwin is fairly well-known by campus security as “the parrot guy.”

Steve takes the group to some of the impressive communal nests the parrots have set up, sharing background information and fielding questions. He’s been running the tours since 2005, and his vast knowledge and patience make him a great sounding board for curious kids (and adults!).

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Photo credit: Steve Baldwin via Flickr, used with permission

Why are there parrots in Brooklyn?

You might blame Argentina for depositing parrots into your backyard. In the 1960s and 70s sending Quaker Parrots, also known as Monk parakeets to us became the preferred method of controlling their population in Argentina where these gorgeous birds were considered pests. Inevitably, a few escaped from the airport and set up colonies, which are still thriving today.

Now you can find them all over Brooklyn and all the way up to Harlem. Just listen out for their distinct (and loud) cry, and their bright green, white and blue plumage. One of the best places to see them remains Brooklyn College, where even renovations and the recent ridiculously frigid winter have failed to dampen their spirits. Another top spot is Green-Wood Cemetery (pictured above).

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Photo credit: Steve Baldwin via Flickr, used with permission 

Round the Seasons

Quaker Parrots aren’t migratory, which means you can see them year-round, though their behavior is different depending upon the seasons.

To see some parrots parenting, fall is the best season for your adventure. Mama and Papa parrots are busy teaching their young ones language, survival skills and generally how to be a parrot. Your kid will get a kick out of knowing that parrots name their young and have “house rules” just like you, though tracking mud into the house is undoubtedly less frowned upon in the nest.

To see quantity over quality, you might want to wait until the leaves fall from the trees and the parrots become more exposed. In winter, the birds flock together in larger numbers for comfort and protection from predators like hawks (yes, we have those in Brooklyn, too).

Spring is a time for building homes and creating families. You’ll see parrots in pairs (they pair up for life), getting ready to settle down and have kids. This also means you may need to explain what that parrot is doing standing on top of that other parrot. You’ve been warned!

Regardless of the season, early morning and about an hour before sunset are when the parrots are the most active, so make this a day’s beginning or end excursion. Whenever you go, the wild parrot safari is a fantastic introduction into the nature that surrounds us, even in the middle of a bustling city like New York.

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Go: Wild Parrot Safari
Brooklyn College, 2901 Campus Rd., Flatbush

Email:steve@brooklynparrots.com

Safari Dates & Hours: Next safari will take place Sat., July 5, 2014, 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Cost: Free – but the parrots welcome bird food!

Have you ever seen Brooklyn’s parrots? Tell us what your kids thought in a Comment.

–Yuliya Geikhman