London: No one knows when and how parrots
native to India and sub-Saharan Africa arrived in Britain, but
their exponential growth in population in and around London
has caused much concern among residents and officials.
Killing them is one of the measures agreed by the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA).
Kept as pets in Indian homes and known for the
ability to reproduce words used by human beings, flocks of
parrots over London are increasingly seen as pests.
Imperial College London, which is carrying out the
first scientific inquiry into the bird's numbers and impact,
has established that from an initial nesting in London in
1969, there are now nearly 32,000 birds, most of them crowded
within the London area and the South-East.
The birds have multiplied in such large numbers that
they are threatening native birds such as robins and
They have colonised parks and gardens, particularly
in London, Surrey and Kent.
Their annual growth rate - 25 per cent year - has
caused much alarm in official circles. The aviation industry
has also been affected by the population, with reports of
The rose-ringed parrot is protected under the
Wildlife and Countryside Act, but from January 2010, it is
legal to kill them under general licence if it is causing
damage to crops or wild birds.
Areas in London that are affected adversely by
flocks of parrots are Perivale, Wormwood Scrubs, Stanwell
(close to Heathrow airport), Sutcliffe, Brockwell park, Hither
Green, Redhill, Wast Ewell, Hersham, and Ramsgate in Kent.
Experts believe that the bird has been established
in Britain for over 40 years, with the first successful
breeding attempt reported in 1971 in Surrey.
The source of these first birds in the wild is
unknown but they are likely to have been pets that had escaped
or been released.
Figures show that 24,480 rose-ringed parrots were
imported (net) between 1975 and 2005.
They highest numbers came from India, Senegal, and
Pakistan. A ban on the import of wild birds was placed in
Imperial College researchers plan to continue the
simultaneous roost counts during 2011 and 2012, which will
allow them to see how the population changes during the year
and across years.
First Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011, 17:59