Parakeets in Conker Tree

Dawn OConnor

Rochester, United Kingdom

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244 views @ 22/3/10

Wild parrots settle in suburbs
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education

The number of wild parrots living in England is rising at 30% per year, says an Oxford University research project.

Parks and gardens in the leafy London suburbs have been adopted as a preferred habitat by birds that are native to southern Asia.

In the Surrey stockbroker belt, a single sports ground is believed to be home to about 3,000 parrots.

The rate of increase, helped by mild winters, is much greater than had been expected.

The findings have also been echoed by a large number of e-mails from BBC News Online readers, who have reported how parrots – particularly parakeets – have now become familiar sights.

Parrot hotspots

These hundreds of e-mails, including photographs, highlighted hotspots such as west of London, Surrey and parts of Kent.

Parakeets in King George Park in Ramsgate
Parakeets in King George Park in Ramsgate,
But there were also parrots reported in inner-London, including parks in Peckham, Brixton, Greenwich and Kensington.

And a few parrots had been spotted in East Anglia, the North West and in Scotland.

There were also sightings from readers overseas, reporting urban parrots in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain and the United States.

E-mails from readers also offer a range of theories about the arrival of parrots in Britain – including that they were brought by Jimi Hendrix, that they escaped during the making of a film and that they were released from aviaries damaged during the great storm of 1987.

Researchers have been tracking several varieties of parakeet, originally from countries such as India and Brazil, but which are now surviving in ever-greater numbers in southern England.

The findings, from Oxford University’s Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, give a glimpse of exotic creatures in unlikely places.

Last summer, there were areas of woodland that sounded more like equatorial rain forest than suburban parkland.
Adam Tandy, Richmond
Alexandrine parakeets have been spotted by Lewisham crematorium and orange-winged parakeets, native to the Amazon, have now set up home in Weybridge.

South American monk parakeets have formed a colony in Borehamwood and blue-crowned parakeets were observed in Bromley.

There have been reports that there could now be 20,000 wild parrots, including parakeets, living in England, with the largest concentration around London and the South East.

The population boom has been put down to a series of mild winters, a lack of natural predators, food being available from humans and that there are now enough parrots for a wider range of breeding partners.

In particular, they have been observed in growing numbers in the outer suburbs and the Home Counties, with trees in parkland and sports grounds becoming their homes.
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