Monk Parakeets in Greenwood Cemetery 

by:  Valerie, Lauren, Michele, and Lisa

     Four students from Brooklyn College's Masters Degree Program in Science and Environmental Education have decided to do research on  Monk Parakeets at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.  It is known that they have built a nest on the entrance tower to the cemetery.  Given this information, the four students decided to search the cemetery grounds to see if there are other Monk Parakeets who decided to make it their home.
    What are these parakeets like?  Where do they come from?  What do they look like?  Questions arise when these birds are seen in Brooklyn neighborhoods.  It's a wonder why these creatures have chosen New York to be their new home since the Monk parakeet is a sub-tropical species from Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Brazil.    However, the primary questions to be researched are : Is there more than one nest in Greenwood Cemetery? If so, what is the distance between them?  Also, What is the height and size of the nests?


    Before beginning this study, the physical characteristics of the parakeets need to be known.  These birds have  a bright green back and head, blue wing feathers, a hooked beak, and a pointed tail.  Their vocal sounds are very high pitched screeches.    They build  large nests that are constructed by weaving small twigs and leaves together.  Rather than building in tree trunks like other birds, they build on high tree branches or tall electrical poles.  These  nests are communal, usually containing one to six nesting pairs, each with a separate living chamber and entrance hole.
    Since Greenwood Cemetery happens to be 478 acres, the largest in Brooklyn, it is imperative that a map of the grounds is studied and followed.
    Once a Monk Parakeet nest is recognized, its height from the ground is approximated.  The strategy used to approximate it's height involves enhancing the color of a metal yard stick by adhering tan masking tape to its length.  The yard stick is placed against the base of the entrance tower vertically beginning at ground level.  A photograph of the tower is taken from a distance far enough to show its full height.  The height of the yard stick, in the photograph, is measured using a ruler. The height of the nest is also measured in the photograph. The measurement of the nest's height is divided by the measurement of the length of the yard stick in the photo. That number is then multiplied by three to convert it back to actual height in feet.

    The entrance tower of Greenwood Cemetery is home to seven active Monk Parakeet nests. The nests are located at three different heights, on the tower. To distinguish the difference, at all future points, they will be referred to as Lower, Middle, and Highest. A characteristic of the tower is that it has two identical sides, at all future points they will be referred to as Front and Back. The tower is equipped with two arch entrances. There are two Lower nests on the Front of the tower. Each is located at identical places in the inner curve of each archway. The Back of the tower is furnished by two Lower nests located in exactly the same spots as the Lower nests on the Front. The Middle nests are also housed in the exact locations on both sides of the tower. They are located by the clock.  


Is there more than one nest in Greenwood Cemetery? 

No nests were detected in any location within Greenwood Cemetery except on the entrance tower.  No nests were detected in any trees within the cemetery or along the adjacent streets.  Several nests were detected in the electric substation adjacent to the cemetery.

What is the height and size of the nests?


Our results indicate that the Monk parakeets build their nests very far away from the ground. It was found that the higher the location of the nest, the bigger the size of the nest. However, due to the position of the nests in the tower at Greenwood cemetery, it was difficult to view the number of chambers in the nests.

Some questions were not answered through this study. The tower in Greenwood cemetery is very tall. Therefore, it is assumed that the Monk parakeets build their nests in tall places like the tower or electrical poles. Monk parakeets originated in a tropical climate. Do they want to be closer to heat from the sun or from the lights on the poles? Is there a relationship between high places and sources of heat? More research is suggested for these unanswered questions.

The groundís crew at Greenwood Cemetery reported that the nests of the Monk parakeets found on the tower have been active for about 35 years. However, the number of parakeets that live on these nests seems to stay around 30.

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Last Updated 2/20/01