Natives and non-natives mix it up at Green-Wood Cemetery

Great egret hunting at Green-Wood Cemetery Tranquility (Koi) pond

When I took my daughter Ginger to Green-Wood Cemetery this week, I was hoping to show her some of the Brooklyn Parrots, strange green monk parrots that live in a car-sized colony on the gothic entrance gate. The giant koi pond and a hunting egret turned out to be more interesting–right until we found an injured parrot on the ground just before we left.

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn has one of the biggest, easiest to see monk parrot colonies on the East Coast. A few blocks from a New York City R subway, you can see — and hear–a huge colony of green pigeon-sized birds living in the Victorian gate to the cheery cemetery, where 19th Century celebrities are resting. Back then it was totally normal to picnic in a cemetery, so the groundsWell, they started in the 19th Century, when they knew how to build a fancy tomb or romantic statue. New Yorkers love the puckish graveyard so much that it’s still finding ways to squeeze in more dead people on top of the half million-some buried there already. So Boss Tweed and Lois Comfort Tiffany are now neighbors with inventors, politicians, mobsters and artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein. In recent years it added on room in recent years by a  columbarium (masouleum for urns) and “Tranquility Garden,” which also happens to be a gorgeous  pond stocked with HUGE koi.

I only found the Tranquility Garden koi extravaganza by asking a friendly and helpful gardener the best place to see parrots on the ground. (The road off to the left of the main gate, especially after 4:30, when traffic quiets down and birds of all kinds frolic in run-off water.) The birds always fly away if anyone gets too close, she said. And she was right. Ginger is less than one but she’s very into birds and knows the word. I figured the green birds of Green-Wood would be a special treat. And I’m sure they will be when I can get her to appreciate them from a distance.

Frustrated by the lack of parrots on the ground, I took her over to Tranquility Pond. Koi up to two feet long swam by. Even from her stroller, Ginger could see them and laughed. I swear, they followed us around on the space age stone bridge. But then, a great egret came by stalking them. The bird was also huge and seemed quite comfortable walking on the pond’s edge and even over bridges and through a tunnel. He swooped into the water a few times, but didn’t kill anything. Every time he crept by the edge, staring at the fish, Ginger wailed and cried. Somehow she recognized he was a menace.

Then, as we were leaving we checked out the street with the water.  Parrots, mockingbirds, robins and sparrows all splashed around. We tried to see parrots in a tree; they flew when we approached. We were about to leave when I heard one on the ground. Cool! I thought. Then I went over and found it had a twisted neck and couldn’t get up. Not cool.

I picked up the bird using a plastic bag as a glove and asked the office if they had a regular rehabber to call. Nope. I called a rehbber who said she could take the bird if I could get it to her, but she’d try to find someone to pick him up. She also said that the cause could be a collision, a raptor attack or raccoon roundworm. from eating raccoon poop. Racoon roundworm terrifies me. It spreads just through wildlife feces. That’s scary because you may not know if your kid is outside and touches something infected. Unlike, say, a raccoon bite, which you’re going to be very well aware of. Most people who get it are under 2.

Anyway, I brought the bird home. He survived the night in a cat carrier. Couldn’t get him to eat or drink. Sean Casey animal rescue saved the day and graciously took him in and took him to the vet. He survived one day, but I think his prospect don’t look good. I was hoping it was a collision and he would recover on his own–as long as  he didn’t get eaten by a raccoon overnight. It may turn out that was the quickest dispatch for a hopeless situation.

The story of the Brooklyn parrots

Brooklyn Parrots

Sean Casey animal rescue Where to See Parrots

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1 comment to Natives and non-natives mix it up at Green-Wood Cemetery

  • Gregory Raymond

    Don’t know who else to ask.

    Two ponds at GreenWood Cemetery always have surface layer of
    Lemna , an aquatic plant.

    One week ago they are all gone!

    Never saw that in 10 years.

    Should there be concern ?

    T.I.A. 07-15-2013