The United Illuminating Co. has completed its spring-cleaning program,
ripping down monk parakeet nests from nearly 70 utility poles in
But these tenacious green birds, South American invasives that have
colonies along Long Island Sound's coast since the early 1970s, are
rebuilding their stick homes as they head into their egg-laying season.
Animal-rights activists said this week that the spring nest removals are
result of a deal reached after a controversial catch-and-kill program
sparked public criticism in the fall of 2005, when UI and the federal
Department of Agriculture destroyed 179 birds.
A state Superior Court case is pending over the issue, in which the
Darien-based Friends of Animals wants to prevent UI from killing parrots
the future as it clears the nests from the poles, to which many bird
colonies are attracted.
Albert Carbone, spokesman for UI, said the recent project took three
removing 45 nests in West Haven, one in New Haven, three in Orange, one
Milford and 17 in Stratford, mostly in the Lordship section.
Carbone said some nests also contained squirrels.
"The nest removals are part of our regular maintenance work," Carbone
"We're working around the breeding season of the birds."
The crews destroyed the nests on three days during the last week of
Priscilla Feral, president of the nonprofit Friends of Animals, said
week that the late-March tear-down is better than the 2005 fall
plan, because homeless birds will not have to face winter conditions,
the birds will not yet be sitting on eggs.
"Their last Draconian nest-abolition effort favored winter conditions,
may have doomed some birds lucky enough to escape," Feral said.
if nests are removed in daylight, and birds are not netted, gassed and
killed, that's a sensible step in the direction of our lawsuit."
Some birds have shown interest in man-made nesting platforms near their
former utility-pole homes, but many seem to have imprinted on individual
poles, where they have begun rebuilding.
The utility claims several transformer fires have been started by some
the larger parakeet nests. Friends of Animals charged that UI allowed
nests to get huge over many years, before the November 2005 eradication
Last October, UI crews tore down 76 nests in utility poles in West
Milford and Stratford. During the 2006 legislative session, an effort to
protect the birds died on the House calendar, but this year there was no
legislation introduced to address the issue.
Ken Dixon, who covers the Capitol, can be reached at (860) 549-4670.