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Escaped pet parakeets bring exotic colour to the capital’s skies

Posted: Thursday 21st September 2017 by Ian-Tokelove

Two ring-necked parakeets perching high in a treering-necked parakeets

With a flash of green plumage and an exclamation of loud squawks, London’s ring-necked parakeets boldly proclaim their recent arrival in our gardens and parks.

tens of thousands of these colourful birds can now be found across the city...

Escaped pet parakeets began setting up home in the capital several decades ago, and tens of thousands of these colourful birds can now be found across the city, from suburban gardens to central London parks.

Exotic and unexpected, the ring-necked parakeet is a medium-sized, green parrot with a long tail and a red beak. Originally from Asia and Africa, it is now the most northerly breeding parrot in the world. They are hole-nesters, sometimes making use of old woodpecker nest holes and large nest boxes, where they raise between two and four chicks.

When not nesting, they spend their nights roosting high in the trees, often in large noisy numbers. Recent roosts of more than 2,000 birds have been recorded at Hackney Marshes, Mitcham Common and Danson Park in Bexley. Almost 7,000 parakeets were once recorded at a roost in Hersham, before tree-felling dispersed them.

They feed on nuts, seeds, berries and fruits, and will also visit bird tables and garden feeders. Some people worry that they might be out-competing native birds for nesting space or food, but there is no firm evidence to support this.

The parakeets certainly don’t have it all their own way, falling victim to both sparrowhawk and peregrine falcon. But with numbers on their side the parakeets have been known to fight back, and have been seen mobbing herring gull and common buzzard.

These remarkable birds do well in London, like lots of other wildlife, because our gardens, parks and woods provide more shelter, food and warmth than large areas of the surrounding countryside can.

We live in a city that is still rich in nature, let’s keep it that way. 

Image: Tony Canning

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