Asian parakeets find asylum in south London

A A A

While Londoners mourn the loss of one of their most famous inhabitants, the cockney sparrow, the capital's resident wild parakeet population is enjoying rude health.

While Londoners mourn the loss of one of their most famous inhabitants, the cockney sparrow, the capital's resident wild parakeet population is enjoying rude health.

There are up to 3,000 Rose-Ringed or Ring-Necked Parakeets ( Psittacula krameri) in London, probably descendants of birds released or escaped into the wild in the 1950s and 1960s.

Indigenous to Asia, their favourite haunt is south London. There are small colonies in east London and the Isle of Thanet in north Kent.

The first recorded sighting of parakeets in the British wild was in 1855 in Norfolk. The colony in London is the country's only naturalised population of significant size. Dr Stephen Hunter, head of countryside management at the Central Science Laboratory, said people had released the parakeets because they liked to see them flying around. The birds have a blue tail and a deep pink collar. ''They are also pretty good at getting out of places and they are destructive. Parrots stay around if you feed them.''

They had survived so well in Britain, he said, because they were used to wet weather. ''In India they are high in the mountains so they are tolerant of poor weather. They can put up with our winters.

"They also don't really have natural predators. As they're up in trees cats don't tend to get to them. They are aggressive birds. Certainly my cat wouldn't touch them.''

The laboratory has been monitoring the birds because in India they are a serious agricultural pest, particularly of fruit orchards. But the parakeets so far refuse to swap city streets for quiet countryside.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'