Polly want an Orange

Downtown South Orange has become home to a breed of parrots finding shelter in the area.

There have been few sightings but those that have spotted the birds have gotten a glimpse at this strange phenomenon.

Chad Gianti, a Junior at Seton Hall has spotted these parrots before. He states that there were five of them and were bright green with curved beaks.

The exact spot of the sighting was behind Bonte where the Farmer’s Market is held.

After the sighting he went online and did some research about this strange occurrence.

What he found was that this is not just an even that is secluded to South Orange but occurs in other areas as well.

The website -BrooklynParrots.com explains how there are many myths to how the parrots originated in places such as Brooklyn, South Orange, and other areas in the US.

The parrots are identified as Quaker Parrots, also known as Monk Parakeets, which are originally from south eastern Brazil through Uruguay to north eastern Argentina.

Some of the myths range from sunken ships, overturned trucks, to being blown over from Hurricane Gloria in the mid 1908’s.

However, the most believed theory has been accredited to a shipment of parrots that were being sold through pet stores in New York being accidentally opened in Kennedy Airport. This was noted through an article by ornithologist John Bull in 1971.

The first sighting of the wild parrots was early 1970 in Brooklyn. Since then they have been seen on and off, and have also made their way down to South Orange.

Originally, South America had shipped over 60,000 monk parakeets to the U.S. for they had been trying to eradicate them.

The Argentinean government sponsored a program to kill over 400,000 of the birds.

In the mid 1960’s they came up with the idea to relocate the parrots. Rather than diminish the species they sent them to America as pets.

Instead of losing money by using up resources to find a way to kill the animals they made a profit exporting them to welcoming families in the north.

Since the parrots were first in Brooklyn, and more specifically Brooklyn College, other areas found with the birds are said to have “satellite colonies”.

These are found in Greenwood Cemetery, Marine Park, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Sheepshead Bay, Benhurst, and most recently South Orange.

At one time the birds attempted to occupy Central Park but were driven out due to their possible imposition on other birds already living there.

The parrots often cause problems for workers in the city since they often migrate to power companies but have yet to make a nuisance in South Orange.

“The parrots have been around the New York City area for decades,” says Gianti. “While they allegedly cause problems, no one besides power companies has made an effort to get rid of them as far as I am aware. They nest in lamps and other warms places during the winter to keep warm and power companies say that they cause damage.”

The birds have made their new home in South Orange and have yet to cause a disturbance.

They have brought a little extra color to an already lively downtown. If you have or haven’t seen them they are a nice sight to see and have a bit of history behind them.

They have wild parrot safaris in the city monthly which helps people’s awareness to them.

Here in South Orange however we will hopefully see more of them as they take cover in the lamp posts through the winter season.

Justin Beebe can be reached at justin.beebe@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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