British Parakeet Boom Is a Mystery, and a Mess

by Rebecca on May 14, 2011

in Animal Pictures,Animals in the News

By Elizabeth Rosenthal 

Jean-Louis Le Moigne/Photo Researchers

STANWELL, England — The evening started peacefully enough at Long Lane Recreation Park in the western suburbs of London, disturbed only by the occasional rumble of a distant jet landing at Heathrow Airport. But just before sunset, five bright green missiles streaked through the air toward a row of poplars at the park’s edge.

Within minutes, hundreds more of the squawking birds — in formations 10, 20, 30 strong — had passed above the tidy homes and a cricket club, whizzing toward their nightly roost.

Individually, any of the rose-ringed parakeets could be the star of a DreamWorks film, electric green with bright pink beaks and the voluble personalities that have long made the tropical species a popular household pet. But for people who frequent the park or live nearby, the visceral experience is more like “The Birds” — albeit with more color and a much noisier soundtrack than the Hitchcock film.

Native to the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa, the rose-ringed parakeet is enjoying a population explosion in many London suburbs, turning a once-exotic bird into a notorious pest that awakens children, monopolizes garden bird feeders and might even threaten British crops.

One rough estimate put the population in Britain at 30,000 a few years ago, up from only 1,500 in 1995. Researchers at Imperial College London are now trying a more scientific census through its Project Parakeet, which enlisted volunteer birders around the country for simultaneous counts on a recent Sunday evening.

To read more see The New York Times:

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