Walkers in Little Bay Park have been delighted by sightings of bright green parrots perched in the trees near Utopia Parkway in Whitestone.
The colony of Monk parakeets, also known as Quaker parrots have been living in the neighborhood for at least five years and are thought to be part of the original group of birds that escaped from Kennedy International Airport in the 1970s. The Whitestone parrots are known to be directly related to another colony in Brooklyn.
“I didn’t know parrots could survive the winter,” said one walker, who has often seen the birds in the park, which runs from the parking lot outside Fort Totten, along the Cross Island Parkway, under the Throgs Neck Bridge to Whitestone.
The belief that parrots are tropical is a popular misconception, according to Steve Baldwin, who runs brooklynparrots.com, a Web site devoted to the colony of parrots located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Baldwin has seen the Whitestone parrots and describe them as a spectacular colony. He explained that this species of birds is native to southern Argentina, which has a temperate climate, where they live in the mountains. “It gets quite cold there,” he said.
One visitor to the park said that he had been told about the parrots but didn’t believe they were really there. He was pleased to find the story true and had brought his children to the park to show them.
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski was unaware of the colony although she had heard about parrots living in Brooklyn and another colony in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.
Baldwin said that the parrots used to nest in the trees in the park but after several trees were blown down in a storm, they built their nests on Con Ed power poles.
He attributed the parrots, survival to their willingness to eat anything. “They like plants, tree buds, birdseed, berries and if it comes to it, they’ll eat grass,” he said.
The colony is about 100 strong with Baldwin counting 10 nests on his visit to Whitestone.