Noisy Parakeets ‘Drive Away’ Native Birds

Jasper Copping, Telegraph (London), April 20, 2014

Some say they first appeared in the British skies after escaping from the set of the Humphrey Bogart film The African Queen.

Others argue they have bred from a pair released in Carnaby Street in the 1960s by the rock star Jimi Hendrix. Still others suggest they were first liberated from a private collection during the Great Storm of 1987.

But whatever the truth–one thing has now been established about Britain’s booming ring necked parakeet population: they are pushing out the country’s other wildlife and threatening their numbers.

A new study into the birds, which are spreading across south east England and beyond, found they are having a “significant” impact on the foraging habits of native birds, which it compares to calamitous effect that grey squirrels have had on populations of reds since they were introduced into Britain. The researchers said that their findings could have long-term implications for the populations of some native species.

The research, by academics from Imperial College London, the Zoological Society of London and the Natural History Museum, involved monitoring the feeding habits of garden birds, and found they ate less in the presence of the large, dominant, gregarious parakeets, and stayed away from spots where they saw them. Although they are not aggressive, their noisy, squawky behaviour and large size, makes the smaller birds wary and keen to avoid them.

Hannah Peck, who was part of the team, said: “No one really knows what the impact of the birds has been. We found they put off other birds from feeding. We don’t know what the long term impact of that will be, but there is a negative effect going on. It could be that the other birds are being displaced, or it could be they are not getting much food, full stop.”

The study, published in Behavioral Ecology, involved monitoring bird tables at 41 sites within 30 miles of central London, including some which parakeets did not frequent.

The researchers analysed the behaviour of birds visiting the tables, in a series of experiments.

A cage was placed next to the table and on some occasions, it contained a parakeet, on others it was empty, and on others it contained a Great Spotted Woodpecker–a native bird with a reputation for dominance and aggression when feeding.

The researchers found that the presence of the parakeet meant fewer birds came to feed, and those that did, ate less. A similar effect was noted with the woodpecker, but to a far less degree.

The reluctance to eat in the presence of parakeets was noted even in areas where they are already a common sight, suggesting the birds do not become accustomed to them. The parakeets had an effect on all garden birds observed, though most were Blue and Great Tits.

The researchers say the reduced feeding could lower the fitness of some birds and that the presence of parakeets could gradually deprive them of food sources.

They believe it is the first case of a non-native bird causing such an impact and compare it to the decline in red squirrels caused by the accidental introduction of greys.

Parakeet numbers have soared in London over the last two decades and they can now be found across the wider south east, especially large parts of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. There are also populations in Manchester, Birmingham and Oxford, with reports in Edinburgh too. There are suggestions their numbers are increasing at up to 30 per cent a year, and estimates have put their population at up to 50,000. They originate from the foothills of the Himalayas, and exactly how they came to be released here is genuinely unknown.

The bird (Psittacula krameri) feeds on fruit, berries, nuts and seeds, a similar diet to many other species. Previous studies have found that parakeets spend half their feeding time at artificial bird feeders.

In 2009, Natural England added the species, the UK’s only naturalised parrot–to its “general license”, meaning it can be culled, in certain circumstances–such as if they are causing damage to crops. The change gives them the same legal status as pigeons, crows and magpies.

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  • MekongDelta69

    Those poor ‘indigenous’ birds.

    (I’m sorry – I just can’t come up with any sane comment to some of these stories.)

  • HJ11

    It is the way of nature that a so-called “native” species must compete better with new species or lost the battle for dominance and survival. It is the same with all species, including White humans. Either we compete better or we’re going to lose.

    And, in our case as in most cases with other species, the main thing we need to do to compete better is to up our birthrate. When we Whites teem we are prettty unbeatable as our DNA program seeks to kick in some behaviors that help us survive and dominate.

  • Alexandra1973

    I get the strangest sense of deja vu from reading that article. Why is that?

    • Katherine McChesney

      I may have picked up the same ‘vibe’ as you from the article.

      • Urbane Neanderthal

        It does make one wonder how most of the native British population can miss the obvious parallel.

        • Katherine McChesney

          Britain is like America. Countries in distress. They have the politically faction like we do. Many people ignore the obvious signs.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    The great zoologist E. Raymond Hall wrote:

    Indeed, study of the thousands of subspecies of native wild mammals has led to the formulation of the biological law concerning them that: Two subspecies of the same species do not occur in the same geographic area. Of the half dozen or fewer exceptions reported to date, reinvestigation has shown that the two kinds instead were in every instance full species, or two subspecies that lived each in a habitat apart from the other. Thus the rule remains almost or quite without exception and it should give pause to anyone about to advocate the long continued residence together of subspecies of man.

    Man is not above the laws of nature, which is why all social engineering experiments inevitably lead to disaster.

    • HJ11

      Nice comment and absolutely right. The competition between two similar subspecies is usually the fiercest as they jockey for dominance and ultimately conmplete control of the niche. We Whites better wake up to this fact and we’d better start fighting back and we’d better start breeding to our fullest once again.

  • Parakeets are the blacks of the bird world. Just as parakeets are destroying bird life, Britain’s blacks and muds are destroying its human life. Amazing parallel.

    • MooTieFighter

      Parakeets are too beautiful and well spoke to be considered “blacks” of the bird world, but I do understand your analogy. I wish others could see this analogy and realize what it is doing to so many great countries.

  • dd121

    I noticed them when in London a few weeks ago. May be a pest but beautiful bird.

  • Cecil Broomsted

    These birds are not the only alien species to invade Britain.

  • Tarczan

    I have that problem here in northern Ohio. I have a bird feeder and attract bluejays and cardinals, our state bird. The GD starlings show up and eat all the birdfeed and chase away the native birds. It really ticks me off. The cardinals are just beautiful birds, and the starlings are big, black and nasty invaders from England. Does it remind you of anything?

    • David Ashton

      Apologies from England.

      • Katherine McChesney

        Waiting for apologies from Africa.

      • MBlanc46

        Not your fault. It was an American wacko who wanted to have some of every species of bird mentioned in Shakespeare in the US.

    • MBlanc46

      We should find the grave of the idiot who imported them, dig him up, and desecrate the body.

  • David Ashton

    Not the only invaders of animal or insect species.

    There was a protest some time ago at the suggesting of protecting red squirrels from the grey squirrel explosion on the grounds that it was disguised racism.

    • oddball1776

      “Anti-Sciurus Vulgaris is a code word for anti-mammalia”

  • IstvanIN

    We have the same problem in the US, kudzu, blacks, all sorts of invasive species.

    • Katherine McChesney

      At least the kudzu can be used for something useful…animal feed.

      • convairXF92

        Kudzu roots can be harvested, dried, and ground into a powder used like cornstarch. That’s how kudzu is used in its native Japan. I believe kudzu was originally brought to the US for just that purpose. It makes a nicer sauce than “corn” cornstarch.

        I don’t think the other invasive species Istvan named makes “nicer” anything…

  • MBlanc46

    There’s a population of South American parakeets in a number of Northeaster cities, including Hyde Park, Chicago. I always rather enjoyed having them around when I lived there, but I imagine there was the same sort of effect on native species. Invasive species of animals need to be closely controlled, just as invasive populations of humans do.

  • RebelliousTreecko

    “Drop the ‘I word.'” “No species is ‘invasive'”

  • Epiminondas

    Ha, ha. Excellent metaphor.

  • Steven Barr

    Our native red squirrels have almost been completely wiped out by the introduction of grey squirrels. It used to be a criminal offence not to report the sighting of a grey squirrel if you saw one on your land

    • HJ11

      Organisms, including, but not limited to parakeets and squirrels and various plants all go forth and multiply in their own manner. No organism owns any piece of land, if they don’t fight off other organisms that also want that piece of land.

      The red squirrel has to adapt and learn to get rid of the grey squirrel from its habitat or it will be replaced by what proves to be a better adapted grey squirrel.

      We Whites also need to adapt and learn to rid our lands of those unlike us of we will be replaced.

      • HJ11

        More…Nature doesn’t care who wins or who loses the battle for survival in any environmental niche. It’s all about competition to see who is the best adapted. And, the “best adapted,” means the one who comes out on top.

  • Saisyet

    I remember watching a BBC nature documentary about how different animal species were moving into London. The narrator was implying that London was a proud harbor for different species to subconsciously promote multiculturalism. It turns out that different species moving into an area may not always be a positive thing after all.

  • HJ11

    I’m not sure what you mean with “That’s a race to oblivion,” or even with the rest of your comment.

    If you think Whites increasing our birthrate is a race to oblivion, you’re clearly mistaken and if you’re relying on what we Whites accomplished in the past, you may be missing the point that we’re not living in the past.

    Today, we have mass transportation that bring THEM to our shores, and if our shores are full of half-dead old White people who have not bred to fill our shores with our own kind, well, THEM will play cowboys to our Indians.

    Breed, breed, breed–but only do it White.

  • HJ11

    We should always learn from nature, and we need to understand that “nature” means all of the universe and all of existence. The lessons for White survival are there and they are, as you have correctly pointed out, right in our own yards and lawns. Perhaps we must all become “naturalists” as the word was once widely used to describe great White people such as Charles Darwin–meaning that we need to open our eyes and see the laws of nature all around us everyday.

  • Kristinitis

    Native critters are also pretty destructive. Meriwether Lewis cried about the Indians slaughtering bison by stampeding countless numbers of them (the bison!) off cliffs. Australian native cockatoos denude thousands upon thousands of native trees. Nature, contrary to the flawed opinions of “Green” people, has not been perfect since the Fall of Man.