Arthur Jeon, Global Animal
England’s wild parakeet population has burgeoned from a few who escaped their cages to nearly 30,000 birds living a noisy, raucous life in the suburbs of Britain. The result is a comparison from the New York Times to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds. Apparently, evenings at a suburban park include hundreds of wild parakeets whizzing by in formations of 10, 20, or even 30! Run for your life!
“I was delighted when I first saw one in my yard, but when you have a flock of three-hundred, it’s a different matter,” a local tells the New York Times. “They eat all the berries. They ate all the food from my feeder in one day; it was ludicrous. I had to stop putting it out because it got too expensive.”
There’s a similar phenomenon in warmer climates, such as the city of Townsville in Queensland, Australia. In the evenings, flocks of lorikeets congregate in the mango trees along the ocean boardwalk and squawk up a deafening din. It’s like being invaded by a swarm of the cartoon crows Heckle and Jeckle, who have very loud opinions about everything. The rainbow lorikeets swoop in as blurs of pastels, until sunset, when they roost in the tropical trees, and suddenly, all is quiet. No big deal – in fact, kind of charming.
Parakeets were originally brought to Britain to be sold as exotic pets. No one knows why the birds, which are native to Africa and India and hardy enough to survive the foothills of the Himalayas, are procreating so wildly in the United Kingdom. It could be that as gardeners plant more exotic plants, the parakeets are provided with more food. Or perhaps residents are simply putting out more bird feeders.
A warmer climate over the past few years has also likely helped. According to The New York Times, “Officials are watching the birds closely, as they could easily threaten crops, but so far they seem to enjoy the cities and suburbs more than the agricultural areas.”
Let’s hope the officials don’t watch the pets gone wild too closely and declare the parakeets a problem “pest” to be “culled”, like so many other wild animals. And let’s hope, too, that the residents can enjoy the magic and the chaos.
Below is a video report, in French, though the parakeets speak a loud language unto their own.