Will a plastic owl fool parakeets?

April 18, 2009 at 7:42 AM
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NEW YORK, April 18 (UPI) -- A group of Con Edison workers in New York City discovered that a battery-powered owl scared monk parakeets away from electrical equipment for months.

The owl, bought at a garden shop, was mounted on a 24,000-volt feeder reclosure in the Whitestone neighborhood in Queens, where nesting parakeets had started several costly fires, The New York Times reported Friday. Nicknamed Hootie, the plastic owl sat there turning its head and hooting, designed to deceive gulls, pigeons or parakeets that it is a real predator.

Monk parakeets are not native to New York, although they are flourishing in parts of Brooklyn and Queens. According to local legend, their ancestors escaped from a shipping container at Kennedy International Airport.

The parakeets eventually returned to the feeder reclosure, possibly when Hootie's batteries ran down. After another fire, which left the plastic bird damaged, the Con Ed workers set up a new owl.

Steve Baldwin, a parrot lover with a Web site -- BrooklynParrots.com -- told the Times that parakeets are smart enough not to be fooled by a plastic owl for long. He suggests recorded hawk calls instead.

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