Parrot vs. Utility Company round 2
November 19, 2005 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Parrot outrage! Though their existance is a bit of a curiousity, the fact that a population of parrots exists in the wild in southern New England isn't really news to anyone who visits this site frequently. But the way a local power company is choosing to deal with them is making news in southern Connecticut. The monk parakeet builds huge nests out of sticks and twigs, mostly in trees but sometimes on power poles. The large nests present a growing safety problem, often leading to transformer fires and explosions. It was recently reported in both major southern CT newspapers that United Illuminating has begun a secret program of dismantling nests found on power poles and sending the birds to the government for eradication. Previous programs in other states have ended the way this one appears headed: eventually, the utility gives way to public pressure and either leaves the nests intact or destroys the nests but not the birds themselves.
posted by wakko (23 comments total)
From the first link:
Priscilla Feral, president of the nonprofit Friends of Animals.

That can't possibly be her real name.
posted by Opposite George at 6:01 AM on November 19, 2005

I think my favorite argument used in the protests is "the birds are cute". I am still not sure where I stand on this whole thing. I grew up with friends who had whole colonies of them living on their street. Every once in a while I hear one around here too. Most people who haven't lived here long don't even know they exist (or didn't until the middle of this week anyway.) One of the articles seems to suggest that a covert eradication scheme has been going on for some time in the state, as whole groups of birds have been disappearing.
posted by wakko at 6:08 AM on November 19, 2005

parrots suck more and more every day.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:20 AM on November 19, 2005

"This should get people enraged," Feral said. "They're darling animals..."

I gather she hasn't been woken up at two in the morning by a shrieking flock. "Darling" is the last word on my mind when that happens. Still, they're as much part of the neighborhood as our disturbed perambulant ("The Screaming Man") and add to its quirkiness.

One thing I don't get: the articles say that UI is pulling down the nests from utility poles but the nests here in St. Mary's* tend to be in trees. I gather those nests are off limits, but won't the remaining birds just reproduce to fill the vacancy leading to a return of the pole nests?

*Definition: Bridgeport in denial.
posted by Opposite George at 6:27 AM on November 19, 2005

the birds are parakeets. not really even that close to parrots. i'd be outraged about killing parrots, but parakeets... meh.
posted by dogsplit at 6:28 AM on November 19, 2005

You have a screaming man too?

I guess it's more common than I thought.
posted by 517 at 6:38 AM on November 19, 2005

dogsplit, these ain't your spinster auntie's budgies. Despite their name, they're about a foot long with about a foot-and-a-half wingspan and classified as parrots. See.

posted by Opposite George at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2005

If Priscilla Feral isn't her real name, they seem to have made a front website. Occam would like to have a word.
posted by nervousfritz at 6:41 AM on November 19, 2005

Only pirates like parrots. Send them all (parrots) to Guantanomo Bay and put them in with our tortured captives.
posted by Postroad at 6:59 AM on November 19, 2005

Should be an "Aarrgh" there.
posted by adamvasco at 7:10 AM on November 19, 2005

Also see: Brooklyn, Seattle, Chicago, Rehoboth.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:14 AM on November 19, 2005


I've actually never heard him scream but my neighbor/friend who lives on his route has.

TSM covers a circuit -- generally leaving Black Rock in the early morning and walking into Fairfield Center (about 3 miles west of his starting point,) then returning some time in the afternoon. I'm not sure if he spends the whole day walking. His face, to me, says the scenery and route aren't that important. It may be the look of satori or the look of relief between demon visitations -- it's hard to tell -- but it's not the look of somebody interested in reaching a particular destination.

I'm not sure where he lives but I've never seen him after dark either in BR or Fairfield so I suspect he isn't homeless (unlike Fairfield's Wheelchair Lady.)

He's a white guy with long hair (what's left of it) and sometimes a beard and walks like somebody who's got a lot of miles on his soles -- all that plus his oversized (by about 50%) head and eyes that pop out just a little leave, at least with me, the impression of an otherworldly John Burroughs.

He looks pretty out of it and I've never approached him so I don't know what his real deal is. Maybe that makes me a bad person, or maybe my prejudice in assuming the guy would want, could use or even needs help or even needs help is what's going to send me to hell.
posted by Opposite George at 7:14 AM on November 19, 2005

adamvasco, unfortunately the parrots' presence only encourages my buddy Jason to do his best Captain Kidd imitation when we're out on his boat, or even on his patio. If he's ever sued for divorce, I suspect "pirate voices" will be listed on the petition.

nervousfritz, I have no doubt that's really her name, and I never fail to give Occam his protection money so don't sic his goombahs on me! :) I was just trying (and apparently failing) to make a ha-ha about the fact that a woman in charge of protecting the descendants of escaped household pets is named "Feral." Kinda like if the head of the NY Botanical Garden was named Mr. Bloom or whatever. Sorry for the obscurity -- my coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

wakko, if they've been disappearing parrots for a while now (not that I have any reason to believe they haven't) I haven't noticed it in my neighborhood. Sometimes I feel like Audubon observing the Passenger Pigeon: "The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose." Though the spots of dung on my lawn are from the Canada Geese who've taken year-round residence there. And there's no mistaking those slimy green sausages for snow.

Off to the Harborview for more caffeine and to see if they've gotten to any of the nests here.
posted by Opposite George at 7:39 AM on November 19, 2005

Opposite George we have non- native colonies here as well. Maybe they will lead you to Kidd's treasure!
posted by adamvasco at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2005

Arrr, 'tis a seductive dream, me hardy. Arrr...
posted by Opposite George at 8:41 AM on November 19, 2005

And it's not just New England. The shrieking little cuties have colonised the old country too.
posted by rhymer at 9:07 AM on November 19, 2005

On a similar note, some city employees near here were charged with drowning strays in the city resevoir.

Odd that they should be charged with a crime for it, I suppose the people who make the 'euthenasia shot' for dogs need their cut too, eh? At least they weren't playing splat the cat.
posted by IronLizard at 9:45 AM on November 19, 2005

yikes, they are parrot-keets. now i'm outraged.
posted by dogsplit at 3:49 PM on November 19, 2005

At least they eren't playing splat the cat.

Hee hee. Ew. Hee Hee. Ew.

How can finding that funny be wrong when it feels so right?
posted by Opposite George at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2005

IronLizard, my whole thought process during that was "they'll never do anything because animal cruelty is simply not regarded with much interest" and I think I was right. No one cares (or cared). WOAI in particular spends more time telling us how they report the big news stories without actually reporting anything.

The truly gross thing (to me) was that they were drowning the dogs in was eventually meant to be drinking water.

Now, if a sobbing overweight Hispanic woman had appeared saying "They killed my Jeffey" (or however you spell "boss" in Spanish), then we're talkin'.

No news story (wrecked car, gang member slain, apartment fire, what have you) around here is complete without said sobber, usually saying "I just (blub) want my (car son apartment) back" followed by an announcement that an account has been set up at Broadway Bank for the sufferers of said tragedy.

On the plus side: San Antonio has come through like champs helping hurricaine victims, donating tons of stuff--some to the point of hosting entire families--which I think is something to be proud of.
posted by MiHail at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2005

And oh yeah, I didn't see any missing parrot nests when I went out earlier and they are all in trees around here, so maybe the parrots of Black Rock are safe for another day.

I'll know for sure when they jolt me out of my REM state later.
posted by Opposite George at 4:10 PM on November 19, 2005

It's damn near impossible to have a rational conversation with most of the parrots' 'supporters'. Start talking about why it makes sense to keep them from spreading beyond their current ranges and you get a response like, 'WHY DO YOU HATE TEH BIRDS?!'

It's what I imagine talking to Sean Hannity would be like.
posted by schustafa at 8:06 PM on November 19, 2005

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