(I’ll apologise in advance for the pictures, these are quite tricky creatures to photograph!)
The ring-necked parakeet is the only parrot to be found living successfully in the UK. The species originates from South Asia but has been a popular pet in Europe for many years – this has led to many birds escaping or simply being set free here.
City parks provide the ideal habitat: since the 1970s population sizes have been on the increase and the parakeets are now found across most of England. When I first arrived in Manchester and began to explore nearby parks I was quite surprised to see ring-necked parakeets as I had assumed that they would not cope with the colder weather in the north of the country.
Unlike the other two species that I have covered in this series (grey squirrels and Canadian geese), the ring-necked parakeet has not had any major effects on the ecology of the habitats it has moved into. However it has been here for a relatively short amount of time compared with other invasive species and with numbers on the rise it is likely that this introduction could prove to be detrimental to British wildlife.
Certain people are eligible for a license which enables them to kill ring-necked parakeets or to destroy eggs and nests. Once again this raises the question of whether this is ethical or not – we are the reason that this species ended up here in the first place and at this present time it is not causing any real disruption in UK ecosystems.
However, this could be considered a preventative measure to avoid damage to British wildlife: past experience shows us that the sudden introduction of a species is rarely beneficial. It is inevitable that the parakeets will begin to compete with native species for resources and even the decline of just one bird could send the whole food chain into chaos.
If ring-necked parakeets are going to be allowed to stay in the UK, their populations and impact should be carefully monitored to ensure that the lives of native species are not compromised.
Sources used in this blog post:
The RSPB: https://www.rspb.org.uk/