Feral Parrots Land in Lower Manhattan

Parrot near Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx has had colonies of parrots for a while, but now the little green birds may be starting a colony in lower Manhattan. Dennis Edge, a friendly birder who is compiling a book of his many finds around Tompkins Square Park, says he’s seen at least two for a couple months in Tompkins and nearby community gardens.

It’s too late to be building a nest for eggs, he says, but the birds seem to be building something–like one of their insanely huge colony nests, which can grow to the size of a smartcar. No one knows where, but once the colony gets going, it’s huge and they like to build them on tall towers (or trees in a pinch), so it shouldn’t be hard to fine in the East Village.

Steve Baldwin has done an amazing job tracking and advocating for the monk parakeets or Quaker parrots at BrooklynParrots.com. He gives free, frequent tours by Brooklyn College and Greenwood Cemetery. At one point he had a highly-detailed map on his site of nests around  New York City and New Jersey, but he took it down after reports of men showing up in vans and grabbing birds.

These huge nests make the parrots unpopular.

The feral parrots x are from South America, but have shown up in cities worldwide, even cold ones, usually with a myth about them escaping from an airport crate. They run into trouble for destroying crops and messing with electrical lines when

Keep reading Feral Parrots Land in Lower Manhattan


Squirrel Patient Gains a Tooth, a House a Proposal

Three weeks into her convalescence from having bottom teeth growing into her upper gums, Mickey, the good-natured squirrel from Queens, is recovering well. The best sign for her was that one of her top teeth grew back. Then it disappeared again. But it’s an excellent sign that she’ll one day do fine in the wild, or at least the Queens community garden where she lives.

One of Mickey’s friends at the community garden, Peter Richter, says a couple months before he brought her in she had a bad fall from a tree after charging a red-tailed hawk. What I now think happened is she broke her top teeth, without which her bottom teeth grew out of control. The teeth grew both up and down and she still has a gaping hole in her chin that I really wish would go away. She had to badly infected digits–you can see one here covered in scab and peanut butter.

 Personality-wise, she is still sweet, has never tried to bite hem, but she is done with me. That’s a good sign. She’s much more independent and intolerant of handling.

Over the last week she’s had a number of opportunities for a new life come her way. Twice I got calls about litters of baby squirrels needing a home. Mickey, an experienced mother, would be good for the babies and they’d give her something to do besides hide from me. Both litters fell through. (One, I think, went to another rehabber. The other

Keep reading Squirrel Patient Gains a Tooth, a House a Proposal

Why is the Guy Who Promoted Horse Slaughter Recommending NY Stop Spay-Neuter?

Jolly, a handsome, neutered dog

New York State is about to cut off spay-neuter funds. It’s a short-sighted idea that leads to more strays and more government spending–like stopping vaccines to save a few bucks. Who would propose such a change? How about Patrick Hooker, a guy who got into the office lobbying pro-horse slaughter, pro veal and is generally not so keen on animal welfare.

Right now the change is buried on page 171 of a nearly 600-page state budget, billed deceptively as “dog licensing reform.” Search for spay or neuter. You won’t find it. I don’t know much about the byzantine Albany budget process, so I turned to the Times Union, where Brad Shear wrote an excellent column explaining that the provision was recommended by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, Patrick Hooker and already approved by David Patterson. In 2008 the embattled governor, he notes, “stole $1 million from the fund and put it in the general fund.”

Hooker got the job in 2007 after working for 16 years as a lobbyist for the New York Farm Bureau. His state bio says he was the “farm advocacy organization’s top lobbyist, serving as Director of the Public Policy Division.” He’s also a hunter and maple syrup producer. The Daily News reports he gets a $1,622 farm subsidy himself.

While Hooker was the chief lobbyist for the Farm Bureau, it was fighting for horse slaughter and against bills that would outlaw the practice. The only

Keep reading Why is the Guy Who Promoted Horse Slaughter Recommending NY Stop Spay-Neuter?

Secrets of the Hallett in Central Park

The Hallett Nature Sanctuary on Central Park South been in the news this month as the daytime napping place of at least one coyote/coywolf. This four-acre island of nature is normally almost invisible to park goers, even though it’s in the most popular corner of Central Park.

When the park was created this whole area was a big, smelly swamp known to carry malaria. The New York Times describes how the wealthy residents of 5th Avenue finally fixed the problem of stagnant water in their cellars. Frederick Law Olmstead drained the swamp and created the Pond, with a promintory left natural.

The pond was popular for “swan velocipede boats.” An 1887 Times story says the boats “got no rest from morning to night,” as a quarter million people visited the park on the first day of spring, watched a black swan protect her nest on a rock in the Pond and observed only two prairie dogs emerge, “the most certain sign of warm weather.” In the winter the crowds headed to the pond for ice skating. Trolleys used to wear a signal red ball if it was currently frozen enough to skate. The current Wollman Rink is built over a filled in section of the pond.

The preserve area has been off limits to regular New Yorkers since 1934, when it was named the Bird Sanctuary. In 1952 the Times reported:  “59TH ST. PARK LAKE TO BE RID OF FILTH; Complaints of Offensive Debris Bring Admission of ‘Laxity.”

Keep reading Secrets of the Hallett in Central Park

Squirrel Recovering from Ingrown Teeth

Mickey, the gentle black squirrel I got as a patient last week, seems to be recovering nicely, though is still a bit off. She came from a community garden in Queens suffering from a malocclusion, swollen thumbs, mites and a wobbly posture. After I clipped her teeth–which I am totally proud of–she eats voraciously and messily.

Two good signs for her recovery today. She’s finally taking some interest in grooming herself. That’s good because if she doesn’t clean herself up, I have to and neither of us like that. She’s not used to eating with only bottom teeth and she’s a huge slob. She can only have soft foods like peanut butter, avocado, banana and honey.

The second good sign is that she’s chattering her teeth at me. In squirrel talk, she’s telling me that she’s a bad ass. And probably tired of me wiping her face off.

Now she just has to grow some top teeth and maybe close up that gaping hole in her chin and she can go back in the wild.

Where to Go to See Special SquirrelsPlenty of Wildlife Lives in NYC. Found Out Where

To see more animals go to animaltourism.com

Hawk Expert Says Attacking CT Hawk May Have to Be Removed–or at Least Scared

The red-tailed hawk that’s been swooping down on people in leafy Stonington, CT, may have to be trapped and removed, says Len Soucy, a wildlife rehabilitator, founder of New Jersey’s Raptor Trust, and one of the world’s most experienced  hawk experts.

“When there’s a nuisance hawk, I relocate it,” Soucy says, “so people don’t hate all the hawks on earth because one hawk is acting foolish.”

Soucy has the traps, permits and experience to trap a red-tailed hawk, but it’s still a last resort. The hawk is probably protecting his territory in advance of nesting season, which starts over the next couple months, he says. He might try to condition the hawk with loud noise first, a process that can take a while work.

Birders travel great distances to see hawks, but this particular CT hawk in will come directly to you. And then he’ll swoop at your head and maybe steal your hat or headphones, the Day reports. The bird has attacked five times since last summer, mostly on the cul de sac of Shawondasee Drive and Carriage Drive. The nearby Deans Mill School now has recess and gym inside, though, just in case.

Hawk attacks on people and pets may continue to rise along with the numbers of red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) . (They’re one of the many birds recovered thanks to bans on DDT and reactionary killing of birds of prey.)  Soucy says he’s gotten two reports of similarly belligerent hawks in New

Keep reading Hawk Expert Says Attacking CT Hawk May Have to Be Removed–or at Least Scared

Is the Noose Closing on the Central Park Coyote?

Update: 1010 Wins has amazing video of the coyote giving cops the slip around 23rd Street around 3 a.m. last night. That means he headed south instead of his usual north. Cops chased him–while someone shouted Let him go! Let him go! Then he was spotted heading back up to 57th Street, probably the Hallett Nature Preserve, where he’s been sleeping in Central Park.

The coyote (really a coywolf) continues to prowl around Central Park, despite what he hear are efforts to trap and euthanize him. I went up to Central Park last night to catch a glimpse. I got nothing. But Bruce Yolton tracked him out of the Hallett Nature Preserve, where he sleeps during the day, and through a circuitous path of the lower park, avoiding people. I called the Department of Environmental Conservation, but so far haven’t heard back about their plans.

The state DEC is trying to capture the coyote and euthanize him to test for rabies, which is infecting raccoons in the northern part of the park, one wildlife rehabilitator told us. Killing an animal is the only sure way to find out quickly whether it has rabies. Or you could just wait and see if he gets sick. This rehabber is qualified to take the coyote in for a quarantine period (10 days) so he wouldn’t have to be killed, but so far the DEC hasn’t given the okay. If someone just so happens to catch the coyote and bring it to

Keep reading Is the Noose Closing on the Central Park Coyote?

Medievel Squirrel Denistry on My Kitchen Table

I’ve been a widlife rehabilitator for a while but somehow managed to avoid the standard but scary procedure in treating squirrels known as teeth clipping. Squirrel teeth continually grow and get worn down against each other–unless something happens so they don’t line up right.  Then someone has to clip them.

Named Mickey by her friends at the Sunnyside Park Community Garden, this sweet, adult, black, female squirrel had bottom teeth growing into her top gums. Peter Richter, who caught her and carried her in, said she had a bad fall a couple months ago. Until then she had been friendly to people and a ferocious defender of her territory from other squirrels.

In what seemed like medieval dentistry, I got some electronics clippers from Ace. I held the extraordinarily cooperative patient in a fleece. I don’t think I’m as compliant when I get my teeth cleaned. I could be brave because with her teeth in this condition, she couldn’t bite me anyway. Or bite anything. She could only lick food and water out of the side of her mouth.

Then, snap, just like that, it was done. It really was just as easy as the YouTube videos claimed. She enthusiastically started eating an apple. Before I clipped her teeth she could only lick food out of the side of her mouth, so it was a success.

She still has a long way to go–a hole in her chin, no top teeth for now–but I think she is well

Keep reading Medievel Squirrel Denistry on My Kitchen Table

Central Park Coyote Faces Death Despite Offer of Reprieve

The coyote that’s been living discreetly in Central Park for the last month is now on wildlife officials‘ hitlist. Fearing rabies, the Department of Environmental Conservation is trying to trap the coyote and euthanize it, wildlife rehabilitators familiar with the case say. That’s too bad because local rehabbers have offered an alternative: They’re willing to put the coyote in the standard 10-day quarantine, then find a suitable release site outside the city.

In the past, the DEC has trapped coyotes and at least made an effort to release them. (Hal, the 2006 coyote, died from stress, rat poison and heartworm, according to the necropsy.) What’s different this time is there is widespread rabies in the raccoon population in upper Manhattan, especially the north woods of Central Park, where the coyote trots after spending the day sleeping in the isolated Hallett Nature Preserve near 57th Street and 6th Avenue.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLZdBVZhOrA&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01]These animals aren’t exactly making a reappearance in Manhattan after being vanquished for centuries. They are a slightly different species than ever lived here before; they aren’t really coyotes, which live out west, but coywolves–a hybrid of versatile, small western coyotes and the gray wolves that were hunted out of the east. Jon Way, a biologist at Eastern Coyote Research, is pushing for them to be classified as a native species since they weren’t introduced by humans and are the natural product of canines evolving to survive in the habitat altered by humans.

Coywolves are now established across the eastern U.S.,

Keep reading Central Park Coyote Faces Death Despite Offer of Reprieve

Central Park’s Elusive Coywolf

Coywolf Hill

Coywolf Hill,This is the kind of distant, lousy glimpse of the Central Park Coywolf you’ll get after much effort.In other words, he’s not bothering anyone. To see much better pictures, check out Urban Hawks.

Last night I got to see a coywolf in Central Park. I went at dusk to see the coyote Bruce Yolton has been tracking at urbanhawks. After an hour of walking in the slush around the pond near 57th Street, I got to see him or her for a few minutes. So, it’s not as if he’s marauding joggers or stealing hot dogs from vendors. But the big question is whether somebody’s going to panic and demand his capture. Or really,  knowing New York, when.

As Yolton has pointed out on Urban Hawks, his excellent photoblog of NYC wildlife, the coyote seems to be sleeping during the day in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, the only part of the park off limits to people and dogs, which is surrounded by water and fence. Once again, I didn’t have to be a good enough spotter to see the coyote in the dark, just good enough to see Yolton with his massive lens and tripod. The coyote lurked by the pond edge, then headed back up the sanctuary’s hill, where he could have been seen by anybody on 57th Street. Then he gave us the slip. He’s been spotted in the north end of the park, too.

This coywolf, or perhaps others, have been spotted in Manhattan all

Keep reading Central Park’s Elusive Coywolf