The Norwood Grove colony of 

Ring-necked Parakeet
Stop press: a Parakeet is feeding from a squirrel-proof bird feeder in an adjacent garden. (WARNING this page is large - image intensive).
Would we kid you?

For many years feral or escaped Ring-necked Parakeets have actually been breeding around the London suburbs. Really:they have featured on Bill Oddie's programme - featuring the  page on the Ring-necked Parakeets of Esher Rugby Club, or the Chris Butler (Oxford University) Project Parakeet. They first appeared widely in the 1970s and their origin is a collection of urban myths - some say they escaped from a quarantine holding at Heathrow, some say they escaped from an exotic film set in the Shepperton Studios.   Flocks are now common in areas close to south London, from Richmond Park to Lewisham.  Ours may be some of the closest to central London perhaps?

Indian Ring-necked Parakeets in Norwood Grove.

In spring 2000 stories of strange parrots being seen high in the trees of Norwood Grove started being told, and many seasoned twitchers knew it would be these parakeets.

In summer and autumn a small flock (estimated at about 15 maximum) could often be seen, especially on finer and warmer mornings, around the tops of the taller trees in the wooded area just down from the Mansion.  We took a few photos but the birds were often seen from far below and in thick green foliage so those shots were not particularly impressive.

However it's easy to see and recognise these birds - they look like the front of a parrot stuck on the back of a magpie, all the colour of a green woodpecker.  Bring your binoculars.  And you can also hear their screeching sometimes.

So although these birds were seen most commonly in summer and autumn the pictures on this page were all taken in winter, when the parakeets were coming down for food (winter berries etc.) and there is not so much foliage around.  You can see the frost and a light flurry of snow in one or two of these photos.


SEX.  Strange: most of the birds we've seen appear to be females or immature birds; because adult males usually have a rose ring round their neck and a black bib.  See for instance these pictures of the male and female of the african rose-ringed parakeet. However perhaps we've seen them most closely in the coldest weather, when fluffed up feathers make the markings more difficult to see.  Please do let us know if you see any with the rose ring and black bib.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 the Ring-necked Parakeet is on Schedule 9 as an animal which may not be released into or grown in the wild, so these parakeets are breaking the law.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF) has sponsored a group at York University researching the spread of these Parakeets. .

There is also now new research underway at Oxford.  We've added our latest sightings to the survey - see also the details below from Chris Butler.

This species psittacula krameri (manillensis) is also known in other parts of the world as the Indian ring-necked parakeet or a type of rose-necked parakeet, and is on the official British Birds List. This lexicon of parrots page details the manillensis variety if you scroll down the right hand frame (to entry 4.).


Chris Butler who runs the Oxford University Project Parakeet kindly E-mailed to ask us to keep an eye on the colony - particularly for any evidence of breeding and as further information to us he added: 
"It might be worth noting that the first documented breeding of Ring-necked Parakeets in Britain was in 1855 in Norfolk. Small populations were intermittently present in the Greater London area for the next century and the first documented breeding of the twentieth century occurred at Gravesend, Kent in 1969. It was added to the official British List in 1983 as a Class C (established exotic).  By 1986, it was estimated that the population was around 1000 birds. By 1998, there were an estimated 1500-2000 birds. The population since then has exploded. This winter, I counted 2,764 birds at the Esher Rugby Club and Steven Spooner of the London Natural History Society reports that 2,999 were counted there in late October. At the Lewisham (formerly Hither Green) Cemetery, there were 621 birds this winter, a dramatic increase over the estimated 200 birds that were present in 1998. I don't have good counts for the population at the Isle of Thanet, Kent yet, but there are 500+ birds in that roost as well according to the County Recorder."

a Parakeet is feeding from a squirrel-proof bird feeder in an adjacent garden. WARNING this page is large - image intensive.

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URL: Latest update: 19 Nov 2005