Argentinian parrots invade Madrid

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The Independent Online

Parrots are invading the parks of Madrid. The warbling of the caged canaries that traditionally inhabit the city's sunny balconies may soon be drowned by screeching.

Parrots are invading the parks of Madrid. The warbling of the caged canaries that traditionally inhabit the city's sunny balconies may soon be drowned by screeching.

Naturalists fear the swiftly multiplying green-and-grey parrot ( Myiopsitta monachus) with its powerful bill and long tail feathers may see off smaller birds in the wild. Wood pigeons on the fringes of the city are retreating before the exotic Latin American interloper.

The parrots are originally from Argentina, where they have reproduced so uncontrollably that they are considered something of a plague. They have been brought to Spain in recent years to be sold as pets, but owners grew sick of the incessant chatter and squawking and freed the birds.

The parrots found the habitat around Madrid ideal, and are increasing exponentially. Colonies have formed in Canillejas near the airport and in the Casa de Campo parkland to the west of the city, where the birds have built a network of nests by breaking branches from cedars, their favourite trees. "Birds who were casually freed by individuals a few years ago have now created a big public problem that's difficult to control," said Alfredo Bengoa, of the veterinary department at Complutense University, Madrid. "They'll soon be the monarchs of all the green spaces of Madrid."

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