Ring-necked parakeet colonisation

Our 60-second Q&A with PhD student Hazel Jackson reveals the essential facts about one of the UK's most colourful invaders.

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Ring-necked parakeet

Are Britain’s parakeets increasing?

Yes! Native to Africa and Asia, ring-necked parakeets are now thought to have one of the fastest-growing bird populations in the UK, estimated to number more than 32,000 individuals at the end of the breeding season.

Why are there so many?

Britain’s free-living parakeets are descended from multiple large releases into the wild, leading to a genetically healthy population with rapid growth rates; in 1995–2010 alone, there was a tenfold increase.

Will the parakeets spread further?

Probably. Their highest densities are around London and the south-east, where roosts are thought to be saturated – as a result, the species is spreading. The Bird Atlas 2007–11 reports colonisation of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield; non-breeders can be seen in southern Scotland.

How do they survive our climate?

Ring-necked parakeets evolved to tolerate a cold niche due to their ancestral origins in northern India. This contributes to their survival in colder parts of northern Europe.

Is the colonisation being studied?

My project is looking at DNA from moulted parakeet feathers to identify and understand the evolutionary mechanisms driving this species’ ability to thrive outside its native range. You can help by sending in any feathers you find – full details are on www.wildparakeetsuk.co.uk.

 

 

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