History of Wild Parrots in the New York Metro Area


How did they get here?

There are many opinions about how the wild birds actually came to settle in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas of Long Island, but it can safely be said that they did not fly up here from South America on their own.

1967: The Great Escape - Fact or Fiction?

The theory that is most widely accepted is that a large shipment of birds destined for sale at New York area pet shops was accidentally released at Kennedy Airport around 1967 or 1968. Although the parrots were not officially spotted until the early 1970's, it is believed the parrots survived in the parklands surrounding the airport, and over time made their way to Brooklyn and surrounding areas where we find them today.

More than 60,000 wild parrots of this type (more facts about wild parrots) were shipped from South America to the U.S.A. in this period. Why so many? Considering the birds agricultural pests, the Argentinean's had just spent 10 years trying to wipe these parrots out. In fact, a government-sponsored program managed to kill more than 400,000 of these birds in the late 1950's and early 1960's. In the mid 1960's a decision was made to sell the parrots to the United States rather than kill them. This was when a major effort to export these birds to the U.S. began.

In the 1970's, after the escaped birds established themselves, they slowly began expanding their domain. Over the years, 'satellite' colonies appeared in various areas of Brooklyn, including: Greenwood Cemetery, Marine Park, Bensonhurst, and Bay Ridge. The parrots even tried to establish themselves in Manhattan's Central Park, but were driven off by a hostile Parks Department which feared the parrots would crowd out local and migratory birds that used the Park. Today, however, there does seem to be somewhat of a presence in NYC.

Today the parrots have been seen all across Long Island, as well as New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and beyond.

Wild Parrots of New York 2015