Scientists dismayed by exotic bird population explosion in UK

May 14, 2011STANWELL, England — The evening started peacefully enough at Long Lane Recreation Park in the western suburbs of London. 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. 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. There is wide agreement that the Adams and Eves behind the current population boom did not fly here from Asia or Africa but escaped from British pet cages or were intentionally released by their owners. The great mystery is what allowed the parakeets to procreate with such phenomenal success just in the past decade. Theories abound. Is it that gardeners are planting more exotic ornamental plants, effectively providing imported food to match an imported bird species? That suburbanites are installing more feeders and putting out more seed? The booming British gardening industry guards sales figures and has provided little guidance. Alternatively, some scientists suggest that a slightly warmer climate has indeed helped tip the balance, perhaps increasing the parakeet’s metabolism during its February breeding season, bolstering the growth of some of its favored food or killing off a predator. Perhaps the answer lies in the numbers game that prevails in any dating venue: once the population passed a certain threshold, it was more likely that each parakeet could find a mate and make a home in the suburbs. The new bird census may help shed some light on the trend. Scientists, birders and policymakers are “waiting with bated breath for these latest numbers,” said David Leech, senior research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology. –Desert News
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6 Responses to Scientists dismayed by exotic bird population explosion in UK

  1. A_lad says:

    After the Pole shift wont Britian be closer to the Equator?


  2. Virginia Helies (Gen) says:

    Exactly the same thing has happened in Western Australia I think near Perth. Alvin your article could easily be titled Australia not UK and it would read almost the same. Authorities have asked people to try and trap them because they are becoming a menace. It is a shame because they are a beautiful parrot.

    We refer to them here as Indian Ringnecks and my son and I have been breeding some different colour mutations. The big bird breeders here don’t want to know about the green coloured wildtype birds or even the green mutations such as pied. It is very possible they just let out any that they get in their nests. These are the parrots, which I earlier posted went totally ballistic around the hour of the Japan quake in March.


  3. Virginia Helies (Gen) says:

    An interesting point with the rose-ringed parakeets is that the African ones are almost identical to the Indian ones but the African ones are only green.

    The Indian ones have undergone many mutations in the wild in India. Blue, yellow (lutino), white (albino). Cinnamon which are a lot paler in colour. Pallids and Fallows which have green body and yellow head or blue body and white head. Also Cleartails with yellow head and yellow tail. The lutinos, cinnamons and pallids all carry sex linked genes but a wild caught Cleartail was sold by a fortune teller in Calcutta and went to Holland and was found to be carrying a non sexlinked ‘ino’ gene.

    Are the birds in India mutating in an effort to save their species. Are they telling us something. If so, what?

    Also some of the Australian native parrots are starting to mutate into different colours in the wild also.


  4. luisport says:

    Hi Maranatha, this post is very interesting because we have the same thing here in Lisbon, Portugal. The green exotic birds ( i don’t know the exact species) is growing the population every year. Thank’s.


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