Skip to content

Why do now we have an infinite inhabitants of feral Ring-necked Parakeets in Britain?


{A photograph} on Flickr of a Ring-necked Parakeet (aka Rose-ringed Parakeet) (Psittacula krameri) taken close to Barnsley in Yorkshire by Tim Melling jogged my memory that I had not commented on a paper that appeared in Journal of Zoology in 2020 on the origins of the big and spreading feral inhabitants in Britain. Tim at all times gives very good captions for his pictures and on this case famous there was extra to the origins than was included in that paper.

Tim Melling’s {photograph} on Flickr displaying Ring-necked Parakeets
close to Barnsley

The authors of the paper used a statistical approach (‘geographic profiling’) on sighting data to  estimate and evaluate the doubtless websites of introduction of the founding inhabitants(s) with options which have appeared within the press as to the place the unique releases/escapes occurred. The approach is used apparently in felony investigations. For sure the fabled factors of origin didn’t coincide with the areas of calculated most chance. The origins of feral populations are sometimes propagated by city myths often unfold by tabloid journos in want of a narrative and the Ring-neck Parakeets in Britain are not any exception. Two such tales implicate escapees from the set of the movie African Queen in 1951 and/or the discharge in London by any individual referred to as Jimi Hendrix (I needed to look him as much as discover he was an American pop star) in 1968. Extra prosaic explanations embody escapes from non-public or zoo aviaries and cages (broken in storms or by falling particles or with corroded wire netting) and pet retailers.

Tim concluded the legend for his {photograph} with: 

However Paul Dunham advised me that he labored in a chook backyard within the early to mid Seventies and he met most of the largest chook importers. In his phrases “They might import 300/500 Ring-necked Parakeets at a time and would home them in aviaries with wood frames. In fact the Parakeets would gnaw by way of the wood frames and escape. I bear in mind 4 mass escapes which amounted to greater than a thousand birds escaping into the English countryside. There have been two mass escapes within the London space, one close to Cheltenham and one other up north in Lancashire I feel. These escapes aren’t rumour. I heard it from the house owners themselves complaining about their losses. I feel these mass escapes are the true origins for the British inhabitants of Ring-necked Parakeets and never the results of a number of pet caged birds escaping over time”.

Certainly there was some key data missing within the paper in Journal of Zoology. Sure, there had been reviews of escaped Ring-necked Parakeets in Britain nevertheless it wasn’t till 1971 that breeding within the wild was first reported (in Kent). The authors of the paper in Journal of Zoology talked about that  the import of all psittacines into Britain was banned from 1930 for twenty years. Nevertheless, they don’t point out that the ban, which ended on 7 January 1952, was reimposed on 16 February 1953, not this time due to concern for psittacosis within the human inhabitants, however as a precaution in opposition to the introduction of poultry illnesses. Partial exemption for people and zoos and so forth to import very small numbers of parrots got here into drive in 1959 however not till 1 November 1966 was the ban lifted utterly. Then the floodgates opened. At round that point the variety of chook importers in England in all probability additionally reached its peak. Thus Ring-necked Parakeets have been imported within the numbers described above. Can it’s a coincidence that breeding was first noticed in 1971? However that mass importation didn’t go on eternally. In 1990 India banned the export of its wild birds. By then although the parakeet had established a inhabitants in Britain, estimated in 1986 at 500-1000 people.

Whereas main escapes from sellers are the doubtless rationalization (and possibly additionally for its presence in 35 international locations to which it isn’t native on 5 continents) this doesn’t imply that any birds which escaped from aviaries didn’t discover mates within the native concentrations and basic dispersal.

One query that is still is whether or not or not people of the African subspecies of the Ring-necked Parakeet have been additionally concerned in establishing the populations in UK or different international locations. The chook commerce from West Africa was in full swing all through a lot the twentieth century. And the way genetically various is the UK inhabitants? A solution to that query would do a lot to find out the scale of the founder inhabitants.

Smaller parakeets, just like the domesticated Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus), which have escaped frequently and in honest numbers haven’t change into established in Britain. They simply fall prey to Sparrowhawks. Colonies of the bigger Ring-necks are recognized to mob predators and their giant beaks are to not be trifled with. My video taken in Gujarat, beneath, reveals their efforts to see off a nest-raiding rat snake, though the terrific racket they make in doing so falls actually on deaf ears.

And, sure, Ring-necked parakeets have reached deepest Ayrshire. We had one within the backyard a number of years in the past nevertheless it didn’t linger for greater than a fe days. Now I learn on the Ayrshire Wildlife Fb web page that they’re now nesting 20 miles away in a park in Kilmarnock.

Parakeets mob a marauding rat snake

Feminine and male Ringnecked-Parakeets within the wild in Sri Lanka
Photographed in 2013

…and two males close to Delhi, India, in 2016

Heald OJN, Fraticelli C, Cox SE, Stevens MCA, Faulkner SC, Blackburn TM, Le Comber SC. 2020. Understanding the origins of the ring-necked parakeet within the UK. Journal of Zoology 31, 1-11 doi:10.1111/jzo.12753 

Prestwich AA. 1967. The parrot ban. Avicultural Journal 73 (1, January-February 1967), 25-26.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *