Indian parakeet among most spotted UK bird

A native Indian bird, the parakeet, has become among the top 20 most spotted birds in Britain.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 12:22 IST

Indians feature prominently in British life but now another native of India is making news - the parakeet. It has just flown into the top 20 most spotted birds in Britain.

The green bird makes what is termed here as an 'almighty scream' but has overtaken the song thrush - which has disappeared from the top 20 nationally - and has even made it into the Top 10 in some areas of London.

Experts say the colourful newcomer from India is indicative of changing patterns of wildlife, where unusual and exotic species surprisingly thrive in the British climate.

A study by wildlife writer John Lawton Roberts describes its expansion in the past 20 years as "astonishing" in BBC Wildlife magazine.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds (RSPB) predicts the parakeet population will more than treble in the next four years. Its findings show that two colonies - one in Lewisham, southeast London, and one covering Esher, Surrey and parts of west London - will soon join, forming a swathe of colour across the region.

According to Tim Webb of the RSPB, there were about 13,000 ring-necked parakeets in Britain - 12,000 in London and the Home Counties. RSPB estimates suggest that by 2010 the population will approach 50,000.

Reports say there are up to 7,000 birds in west London and Esher colony. About 4,000 of these are in Esher while the Lewisham colony is smaller.

Webb told The Telegraph that the numbers of birds were not at a worrying level but they may be if they increased at the present rate until 2020. The parakeets are hole-nesting birds and will compete with robins, woodpeckers and owls.

The native range of the parakeet (Psittacula krameri) is a broad belt from Africa across India south of the Himalayas. Reports say they have been seen in almost every English county, and occasionally in Scotland and Wales.

RSPB said although the parakeet is not a new inhabitant to the south of England - records from the start of the 20th century include sightings in west London - its population has reached a level where it has become more noticeable.

Webb said: "I think it is fantastic that you can see them, they are wonderful birds to see. People enjoy the spectacle of them, and they are just so unexpected, particularly in London."

The ring-necked parakeet is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

First Published: Jan 25, 2006 12:22 IST