Flocks of ring-necked parakeets, Psittacula krameri, inhabit the open lands, parks and gardens in the southern suburbs of London. No one knows how these birds came to live in London. Their native habitat stretches from Africa to India and the Himalayas. They are the most obvious non-native birds in Britain today.
The parakeets are now particularly plentiful in west London, especially in the wooded stretches along the Thames Valley area. Their sharp and loud screeching call and long flight silhouette are distinctive and they have a brilliant emerald plumage.
Tony Drakeford, a leading ecologist, thinks that their population must have already exceeded 30,000. He is afraid that they must be displacing native birds. He says ‘recently I went to Bushy Park where there are thousands of parakeets and very few native birds. It may be too late to do anything about it. A major cull would meet with a lot of opposition.’
Andre Farrar, a spokesman of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said ‘if it were proved that the parakeets were causing a reduction in the conservation status of native British bird species, then a cull might be the right answer.’
Many fear that the parakeets, which nest in holes and crevices in trees may be displacing British tree-nesting species such as woodpeckers, nuthatches and starlings.
The BBC News Online received several hundred e-mails from readers about the spread of these parakeets in July 2004.
The rapidly increasing population of the parakeets has prompted local newspapers call for a massive cull. The gracious emerald green parakeets may soon fall victims to a culling operation.