Beep guns for parrot poachers

The Brooklyn Paper
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The poaching of Brooklyn’s wild monk parrots from their perches on neighborhood streets has been ruffling the feathers of bird-lovers for months, and now, the borough’s parrot-owner-in-chief is taking matters into his own … er … talons.

“It’s just reprehensible to me that anyone would try to poach the parrots,” Borough President Markowitz told The Brooklyn Papers. “They’re abusing these beautiful little creatures.”

His sympathy for the green-feathered birds is not surprising — he’s the proud owner of a talking five-year-old African gray parrot named Beep, whose vocabulary includes “words” like “fughedabou­tit.”

“I have some feelings about parrots,” acknowledged Markowitz.

Local environmentalists are cautiously optimistic that, with Markowitz on board, something can be done to quell the poaching.

“If a little bit of money is thrown at this, and a lot of people get together, potentially we could address the problem,” said Sandi Franklin, the executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Urban Ecology.

The parrot poaching first came to light earlier this year when parrot enthusiast Steve Baldwin publicized the issue on his Web site,

“At first, I thought they were being sold to pet stores, but I haven’t been able to prove that,” said Baldwin. “So I wonder if there’s someone out there that’s breeding them in their backyard.”

“The poaching corresponds to a definite loss of population, notably in Marine Park and also in parts of Midwood,” he said.

Max Ovadia, a longtime Midwood resident, told The Brooklyn Papers that he has witnessed at least three incidents of attempted parrot-poaching in the past year, most recently over the summer.

“It was around 11:30 pm, and I was walking the dog,” said Ovadia. “And, I’m seeing a fellow in his 20s or 30s with two younger kids, and one of them is trying to climb up a power line with a really, really long net.”

“So I start screaming,” said Ovadia. “As soon as I told them I was calling the police, they ran.”

He’s not the only Brooklynite who’s grown attached to the green-feathered parrots, which are believed to have escaped from a shipment to JFK Airport in the 1970s.

Bob Moses, a Marine Park resident, said he’s been enjoying the parrots for years, until, all of a sudden, they began to disappear, a development he attributes to the poaching.

“There are no birds left in the neighborho­od,” he lamented.

“We used to have nests on every other block, and they used to talk and clack.”

“The people who took them will be sorry if I ever find them. That someone should do something like that is just horrible.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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