- George Merwede
The Quaker parrot family moved into the city's Hillside neighborhood four years ago. They have reproduced and thrived through Colorado winters, fended off human and animal enemies and, last month, survived a lightning strike that destroyed their nest.
Now the wild parrots are facing down the most threatening predator of all -- the Colorado Springs Utilities company.
This week, CSU announced plans to capture the wild birds, which are also called monk parakeets, and turn them over to the for-profit corporate animal broker PetCo, which "plans to rehabilitate the parakeets and find a suitable home for them."
The city-owned utility company paid a Fort Collins--based wildlife management consulting company $2,500 to help them figure out what to do with the parrots, said CSU spokesman Don Miles.
"We have made a decision that we have to rescue them from the wild environment," Miles said. "They cause a lot of potential for safety hazards and outages. We've taken a long, hard look at this and determined that the birds and reliable service in this area are incompatible."
The birds' human neighbors, who have watched them with awe and admiration since they moved in four years ago, are aghast. "They are blaming the birds for the lightning strike," said Mic Robertson, who lives nearby.
Miles says the lightning strike to the line, which caused a power outage, precipitated the utility company's decision. Then he claims that CSU has grave concerns about the parrots' safety and wants to "rescue" them -- presumably by trapping them, caging them and selling them as pets.
"They are not in their natural habitat, which is South America," said Miles. Of course Miles, who is from the Pacific Northwest, is also not in his own "natural habitat." But he doesn't want to talk about that. "I'm not going to get into a debate here," he says.
Yes, the resilient, intelligent and personable Quaker parrots are indigenous to South America. However, they have been known to acclimate and adapt in feral colonies all over the United States, including in New York City and Chicago. They often build their three-chambered nests on utility light poles and stadium light poles because they give off heat.
Only in Colorado Springs could such a delightful quirk of nature be considered such a menace.
From the gone but not forgotten file: Perusing through the Sunday paper last week, we were amused when we recognized a name from the not-too-distant past. In the nationally distributed Parade Magazine newspaper insert, a guy named Walter Scott features a weekly "Personality Parade" page 2 column that invites readers to submit questions about their favorite movie stars and celebrities. Last week -- amid queries about First Lady Laura Bush's transformation from dowdy to clotheshorse, and Warren Beatty's life-after-sex symbolism -- there appeared a question asking how much billionaire Bill Gates will get back from the new tax rebate.
Who wanted to know? None other than Kendell Kretzschmar, the retired civil service employee and erstwhile Colorado Springs City Council candidate. Espousing a decidedly low-to-no-tax platform, Kretzchmar ran unsuccessfully two years ago, and again this April, getting whupped by District 4 newcomer Margaret Radford.
By the way, Gates will get $300 if he filed an individual return, $600 if a joint return -- the same as you and me.
And former state Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo has resurfaced as well. The matriarch of the famous Colorado Springs Tebedo clan is most famous for her gaffes -- including calling young black women promiscuous and pointing out that teenage pregnancy rates drop off dramatically after age 25. Sources say that the Republican Tebedo, a former county commissioner, is currently positioning herself for another bid for that $63,200 a year seat when Chairman Ed Jones is term-limited from office next year. Tebedo's likely GOP opponent is Jim Bensburg, a staffer in Sen. Wayne Allard's Colorado Springs office who has been jiving and schmoozing everyone imaginable to get support for his own bid.
But we get ahead of ourselves. Tebedo, a registered Parliamentarian, was recently elected the president of one of two Colorado Springs chapters (they call them "units") of the National Association of Parliamentarians. The unit's publicity chairman, Diane Pfalzgraf, said the group meets once a month to talk about Roberts Rules of Order and the often-complicated rules of parliamentary procedure.
"Doesn't it sound boring? To me it does, but really it's fascinating," Pfalzgraf said.