Adam Gopnick on the feral parakeets of Brooklyn and the people who travel to see them:
Jen often takes the number 2 out from Park Slope, where she lives, to look at the parakeets, and she is often with her boyfriend, Jason. Jen is a birder but a democratic one. As a girl in Fairfax, Virginia, she kept pigeons — real city pigeons. She is a small, intently pretty young woman who has the eager eyes, quick mind, and you’d-be-amazed-how-much-fun-the-subway-can-be avidity of the new New Yorker.
Subways are a space in New York where it’s OK to look at people’s eyes. Not to make eye contact, but to look. “Are you alright? Is everything OK?” I want to ask the woman with the swollen eyes, who’s gripping the baby, uncomfortable, distant. “Is it OK?” I want to ask the bespectacled woman, frantic to study stapled papers over the Venti coffee. “Is anything OK?” I want to ask the newly soaped man with the perfect devices. “Are we OK?” I want to pose the question to the car. But the subway rolls on, and it’s too loud anyway.
“You’d hear them at first, but they’re not hard to see,” Jen says of the parakeets. “They’re real New Yorkers.”