Home   Kent   News   Article

Parakeet colony ruffling a few feathers

Picture by Kent Messenger Group photographer JIM RANTELL
Picture by Kent Messenger Group photographer JIM RANTELL

FOR MORE than 25 years – some say 30 years – Thanet has been home to a colony of bright green parakeets.

But now their quiet life has been disturbed by a rash of headlines suggesting their presence could be harming the lives of native birds.

The Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched an investigation into invasive non-native species, of which the rose-ringed parakeet is one.

London’s suburban parakeet population, which stretches as far south as Bromley, is booming and has brought calls for a cull. They compete for nesting space and food with native birds, such as woodpeckers, owls, starlings and robins, and are among the top-20 most spotted birds in the UK.

A Defra spokeperson said: “We have commisioned experts to do a study of the parakeets to see if they are having an impact on our own natives and what is the best way of tackling that. We cannot say what we will do until we get the results of the study.

“Some groups say the parakeets have been a problem, other groups, like the RSPB, say they haven’t."

However, twitchers should rest assured that the Thanet population, often spotted in Margate’s Dane Park and Reading Street, is less likely to be put under threat.

RSPB spokeman Adrian Thomas said: “There’s no reported increase in number in your sub-population as it is completely disjointed. It seems to have sustained itself for 30 years without mixing its gene pool and has probably come from a different source.

“There’s lots of urban myths about the London parakeets, like they came from the film set of The African Queen, or they were released by a drug-fuelled Jimi Hendrix.

"There’s a feeling that Thanet’s arrived in the late 1970’s when they tightened the rules on importing birds and sailors would release them as their ships sailed up the Thames.

“There’s no strong evidence that they are having an impact on native species, but there are lots of non-native species out there such as little owls and pheasants.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More