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Quaker UPDATE ---Courant Article Misinformation

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  • Donna Dwyer
    Hello Everyone The quakers are actively using one of the alternative platforms. UI has not begun any further efforts to capture but also has not maintained the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2006
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      Hello Everyone
      The quakers are actively using one of the alternative platforms. UI has not begun any further efforts to capture but also has not maintained the poles the cleared after the slaughter. So the birds are rebuilding in a few locations.
      I am working on a grant application to possibly fund more alternative nest platforms.
      Please call, write or email your local Representatives and ask them to Support HB 5804. This bill will make it illegal for anyone to capture and/or kill Monk Parakeets
      The following Editorial appeared in the Hartford Currant on April 3, 2006

      Don't Protect Monk Parakeet

      April 3, 2006
      If Connecticut were attacked by an exotic and aggressively spreading species of weed or vine - kudzu, for example - would the General Assembly pass a law protecting kudzu? We hope not. So why protect the monk parakeet?

      Yes, it's warm-blooded, cute and comical. Exotic and colorful, too. An import from the high altitudes of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, the blue jay-sized Myiopsitta monachus has gray feathers on its face, neck and chest; the rest of the bird is green, with a hint of blue on the wings.

      Environmentally, however, there's evidence this bird may be a kind of Trojan horse. Experience suggests the invader monk parakeet competes with robins and jays for food (all share the same fondness for grains, seeds, fruits and bugs).

      From a human perspective, its habits can be worse than annoying. Raucous and noisy, the monk is the only parrot that lives communally (a nest in West Haven had 35 pairs). Its large, loosely woven stick nests have been built around transformers for warmth, causing fires and outages. Homeowners and nursery owners complain the birds strip bark and snip branches (some up to 1½ inches in diameter) for nest material.

      Finally, the monk parakeet is expanding its range in Connecticut. The population of the bird, first seen in lower Fairfield County in the early 1970s, is now up to 1,000. Nests have been found as far east as Old Saybrook and as far north as New Britain. In its native lands below the equator, this bird is so prolific and ravenous that farmers view it as a threat.

      So why, then, are lawmakers so protective? Under state law, monk parakeets are grouped with sparrows, starlings and other nuisance bird species that can be killed. However, the Environment Committee has voted unanimously to support legislation prohibiting anyone - including the state's electric utilities - from catching or killing the monk parakeet.

      That wouldn't stop utilities from clearing nests from transformers. But unless the birds are killed, destroying nests may only cause the parakeets to expand their range. In the early 1990s, a tree fell that was home to about 200 parakeets in the Bridgeport neighborhood of St. Mary's by the Sea. The result was an avian diaspora.

      The monk parakeet has its charms. And, like the starling and other non-native species, it is probably here to stay. But it ought to be controlled.

      This piece is FULL of INACCURATE information. I have written the Courant with factual information from experts on the topics of Monk Parakeets. If you are so inclined PLEASE let the Courant know how you feel about this. This type of wrong information spit out as facts by UI and the Courant is believed by the unknowing public and puts the birds in a bad light they do not deserve.
      My response:
      Subject:Response to Don't Protect the Monk Parakeet
      This is a response to Don't Protect the Monk Parakeet an editorial published on April 3, 2006. The unnamed author is spreading misinformation. He/she writes " there is evidence..... " and goes on to editorialize without stating where this "evidence" is coming from. Many published scientists who have studied the monk parakeet  state the opposite of what the writer does.
      Here is some info from Mark Spreyer, 1998:
      “I am the senior author of the Life History of the Monk Parakeet published in 1998 in the Birds of North America series (Vol. 9 No. 322). (This series is supported in part by the American Ornithologists’ Union, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, and the Academy of Natural Sciences .) When reading early scientific accounts of the Monk Parakeet’s arrival in the United States , it was clear that the species was rarely treated objectively. The anti-parakeet feelings stemmed from fears that the Monk, a native of South America , would spread across the country like Carp, Kudzu, and other invasive, non-native species. However, prudent scientific caution often crossed the line into “guilty until proven innocent.” For example, the following came from a piece about the parakeets that appeared in a 1973 Journal of Agriculture of University of Puerto Rico, ‘The phrase ‘further research is needed’ must never become a euphemism for failure to act.’” Interestingly, those early accounts also contained the reasons why the Monk Parakeet has not spread across the continent during the past 30 years, as originally feared. Noted ornithologist John Bull, who chronicled the parakeet’s arrival in New York during the early 1970’s, stated, correctly, that the Monk was either “strictly” or “virtually sedentary. In fact, with the knowledge at hand then, there was very little reason to expect such a spread. The passage of time has confirmed John Bull’s sedentary characterization of the species. You see, because of the successful invasions of a few exotic species, such as Starlings, House Sparrows, and Pigeons, some biologists often think that ALL non-native species, such as the Monk Parakeet, are chomping at the bit to invade and exploit North America . More often than not, exotics that are accidentally released on the continent disappear quickly and without notice. Also, many of these early “success” stories – unlike the Monk Parakeet, which was introduced for a captive existence – weren’t accidentally released, but were deliberately introduced into the North American ecosystem. Starlings, for instance, had been unsuccessfully released in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Quebec before they were finally, and successfully, introduced in New York in 1890. By 1980, according to one authority, there had been, roughly, 120 species of birds released in the United States . This list includes transplants and the reintroduction of rare natives, such as the Peregrine Falcon. Of these, about a third took hold, most of these only to be locally established. Very few became a widespread nuisance. Unfortunately, some of today’s ornithologists continue to ignore the facts and maintain that the parakeet is a looming threat, having still to prove its innocence. From his 1989 book, The Birds of Illinois, H. David Bohlen writes of the Monk Parakeet,”…Their maliciousness toward people has yet to be demonstrated in the Northern Hemisphere …Maliciousness? Come again? At the risk of appearing vain, I’ll close with my own words from the introduction to the Birds of North America life history for the Monk Parakeet. Early on, it was feared that this parakeet would thrive in its new home, ravaging crops as its range expanded. Over the years, this threat has not materialized and, in many areas, efforts to retrieve wild parakeets have been discontinued. It is worth noting that, in Argentina , agricultural losses attributed to the Monk Parakeet have never been accurately measured.”
      From Chicago wilderness magazine, Winter 2003

      Michael Avery, a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), asserts that they pose no threat. “There is no documentation of their causing damage to cereal crops in the U.S. , and no indication that they are displacing other birds. They are not cavity nesters, like starlings, which displace woodpeckers. Overall, there seems to be no competition for food or nest space.”
      From the University of Chicago Magazine
      Dr. Steve n Pruett-Jones, associate professor in ecology & evolution stated, “I previously thought the monk parakeets should be controlled because an introduced species is almost always bad for its new environment,” Pruett-Jones says. “But now I believe they are sufficiently benign in the habitats where they now occur. They’re not a pest, and they don’t compete with a native species.”
      Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation for the Fairfield-based Connecticut Audubon Society, said that even though the state has classified the parakeets as an "invasive species," they apparently do not compete with native birds for habitat or food. Bull, said that while Audubon supports this eradication effort, the birds have carved out an ecological niche for themselves since they arrived around 1971.  "They're great birds," he said. He added that winter weather restricts them to the coast, where they feed on rose hips, beach plums and bayberry. "In South America they're considered an agricultural pest," Bull said. "I have not noticed any situation, beyond a peripheral level, where monk parakeets have been competing with native birds.
      Michael Gochfeld, MD, PhD, Professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University in NJ, specializes in environmental toxicology and also conducts research in avian behavioral ecology and studied the Monks in their native land of Argentina as well as in Florida, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey. In his testimony presented to the New Jersey Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee he stated, "I first studied Monk Parakeets in Argentina, in the course of other field studies in 1970 and 1971. While in Argentina, I heard that the Monk Parakeet was considered an agricultural pest, although I never heard a first hand account of its damage tocrops. And indeed, such damage may have been historic.  In traveling over about 15,000 km of central and northern Argentina, I never found evidence of more than a few birds at widely scattered locations.  In my view there is very little evidence that it is really an agricultural pest in Argentina.
        Nonetheless, in 1972 when I discovered a small
      colony of Monk Parakeets in Puerto Rico, I issued an alert and published an article in the local Journal of Agriculture, about its pest potential (Gochfeld 1973).  Nothing was ever done to control the bird there, and when I last visited Puerto Rico in themid-1990s, I found that it was still occurring in small local populations.  At that time I favored eradication of the population there, and at least
      urged that it be studied and monitored.  Experiences over the past 30 years have let me to change my opinion.  It has not become an agricultural pest in Puerto Rico, where it is mainly an urban bird in the San Juan area. I have found no evidence that my earlier concerns about its pest status were warranted.  This means little or no evidence of major agricultural damage from its native haunts in Argentina and Brazil, nor its adopted lands in Florida and New Jersey. "
      I feel you should provide your readers with the evidence supplied here and I would ask the author of the editorial to state his/her where and by whom the evidence he refers to can be found.
      Donna Dwyer
      2108 North Main St
      Waterbury, CT 06704
      203 754-1822

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