This story is part of Fix’s Outdoors Issue, which explores how we build connections to nature, why those connections matter, and how equitable access to outside spaces is a vital climate solution.
Monk parakeets are not native New Yorkers. These chatty, neon green charmers were sent to the States in the 1960s from Argentina, where they were considered pests. Legend has it that they escaped from JFK airport (and evaded a standoff with bird hunters at Rikers Island) to settle where they live today: at the entrance of Green-Wood, a cemetery and historic landmark in western Brooklyn.
The flock, which numbered 36 at last count, stands guard over the 478-acre expanse of greenery and graves. They’ve made a home of the arresting 19th-century Gothic gate, their insulated nests poking out of its main spire like tufts of unwanted hair.
Cemeteries may not be an obvious place to go birdwatching, but neither are the subway tracks of Penn Station, the bike lanes around Union Square, or the banks of the Superfund-designated Gowanus Canal — all areas where my guide, ecologist Kelly O’Donnell, has made numerous nature observations over... Read more