According to local lore, during the 1960s, a shipment of Argentinian birds was supposed to arrive in New York to be distributed to area pet shops. This never happened. Mysteriously the birds escaped the cargo hold of John F. Kennedy International Airport and set up nests along the tri-state area. There are approximately 300 nests in total.
One of the most famous colonies is located at Brooklyn College. Because the birds are attracted to heat, they build their homes around utility pole transformers. These are not just any sorts of nests either – they are so large and elaborate, that they completely engulf the power equipment.
As can be imagined, this has caused innumerable problems for Con Edison. When they become wet, they conduct electricity, causing equipment fires and blackouts. Con Ed has tried to deter the birds with everything from spikes to sound machines. In Whitehall, Queens, they even tried a plastic hooting owl, nicknamed, “Hootie.” No matter what, the birds are here to stay. Even when workers come in to remove the nests, the birds are back within a few days. They are even known to attack workers if there are eggs in the nest.
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Only in Queens: Tasting Our Way Through New York’s Most Diverse Borough
Manhattan may have name-brand recognition and Brooklyn a certain cache, but Queens is the city’s largest and most diverse borough. Join us, May 17–20, to dig into Queens’ rich neighborhood life.