Most immigrants to America arrive with some baggage. These traveled light - just their feathers.
The Argentine parakeets likely flew to freedom years ago from a cage passing through customs at Kennedy International Airport. Now about half a dozen of the foot-long ``monk' parakeets make their home in a nest on a utility pole, high above a parking lot behind a Brooklyn diner.``What they've got there is condo apartments - one on the bottom, and three on top,' said Joe Grandal, the lot attendant.
And when it comes to deporting the squawking immigrants - fuhgeddaboudit.
``They're well-established,' says John Bianchi of the National Audubon Society. ``Some of them may actually be citizens; they're born here.'
As they soar from their twiggy, 3-foot nest, it's hard to miss the psychedelic flying objects: bright green body, light blue wings, shocking orange beak.
Their fly-up nests with cubby-hole entrances may be well-located, but their homes have no heat.
So the squawking squatters skinny-dip in parking lot puddles, among the cars, and keep their nest right under a warm Con Edison transformer attached to the pole.
They also have the street smarts to survive in the ``wilderness' - a middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood by the sea.'
On Thursday afternoon, they were busy chattering and, sticks in their beaks, putting finishing touches on their lofty abode.
The birds, who moved into the parking lot about a half dozen years ago, come from a temperate climate in the Argentine farmlands but have been able to survive New York's sometimes harsh climate.
Exactly how - and when - they came to New York is a mystery.
Peter Mott, president of the New York City Audubon Society, says he believes the birds arrived in the 1970s, an illegal import passing through Kennedy Airport.
He also has a theory on how the parakeets flew to freedom, this one linked to their ugly voices.
``The people who smuggled them in to sell them as pets discovered they were too noisy - there was nothing melodic about their squawking,' Mott said. ``So they let them go.'