Wild Ring-Necked Parakeets in London

November 4, 2010

picture of rose-ringed parakeetWould you believe there are flocks of Rose-ringed parakeets in London?  I mean BIG flocks, like 500 or so!

How do I know this?  A reader, Andrew Perrott, sent me some pictures to share of these birds.  He took them around his home which happens to be less than a mile from London Heathrow airport’s Terminal 4!

I think it’s safe to say these are “Big City Birds”!

These wild parakeets are known by two different names, which confuses things a little: Rose-ringed parakeet and Ring-necked parakeets.  But they are one and the same, the Psittacula krameri species.

picture of parakeet

Ring-necked Parakeet eating horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum)

They are the only species of parrot that lives wild in the UK.  So where did they come from?  Well, these birds are descended from pets and aviary birds which escaped or were deliberately released, and now breed in south-east England, and have even been spotted as far afield as Wales and Scotland.

picture of two green parakeets

Rose-ringed Parakeets (aka Ring-necked Parakeets)

In these pictures, there are munching up on horse chestnuts.  According to Andrew:

picture of parakeet

“Good stuff!”

“We were treated to a swarm at 7.00am on Sunday, 12 September, and again the following morning. . .

Large swarms fly through the area in the morning and evening to and from their main roosts, which are nearby.

There must have been at least 500 of them that Sunday, and they stayed for an hour or so. . .

The noise was unbelievable, not just the squawking, but the noise of conkers (aesculus hippocastanum: horse chestnut, the nuts of which are large and glossy) hitting the car roofs in the residents’ car park.

They like the white coating inside the conker husks.”

photograph of ring-necked parakeet

Ring-necked parakeet enjoying his meal!

Apparently horse chestnuts aren’t they only food they enjoy.  In the wild, Rose-ringed Parakeets usually feed on buds, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and seeds. Wild flocks also fly several miles to forage in farmlands and orchards and can cause extensive damage.

photo of ring-necked parakeet eating horse chestnut

These birds obviously love those horse chestnuts.

Andrew noted that “The parakeets are a nuisance in orchards, apparently, as they tend to take just one peck at a fruit then go onto another.  In the spring, they gorged on the young horse chestnut leaf shoots, and they like the bullet-hard crab apples on the tree opposite my house. . . They seem to have adapted to the climate, and have become adept at feeding from people’s bird-feeders in gardens. I’ve not seen them on the ground, though.”

picture of rose-ringed parakeet in the wild

Rose-ringed parakeets + Conkers = True Love!

Andrew said, “There weren’t so many the following morning, but from the garden I couldn’t work out what they were doing as they seemed to fly straight at the end wall of the house, so I walked round into the car park, and there they were, clinging to the wall. . .

picture of ring-necked parakeets on brick wall

Shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”!!!

. . .  looking like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film. A couple of men in a van passing by around couldn’t believe it; they just stopped and stared.”

picture of green birds on red brick wall

Unusual wall ornaments!

I think I would have stared, too!  Can you imagine dozens of birds clinging to the side of your house?  I might enjoy seeing one in a tree nearby. . .

photo of ring-necked parakeet

Ring-necked parakeet (psittacula krameri) November 2007

… but I’m not sure I’d enjoy 500 roosting around my house.  Wow!

Thanks Andrew for sharing all those pictures and the interesting information!

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