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"Journal Entry from the Countryside: Parakeets Visiting My Feeder as I Perch on the Fence" - Lev Parikian
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“Journal Entry from the Countryside: Parakeets Visiting My Feeder as I Perch on the Fence” – Lev Parikian


The wind calms down, but only temporarily. We wouldn’t want to get too comfortable. A few small birds use this opportunity to visit the feeders. Coal tits, blue tits, and robins perform a coordinated dance with intricate and secretive movements.

A furious squawk, a chartreuse-green flurry, a general sense of agitation. The smaller birds disperse, leaving the feeders free for the interlopers – big kids throwing their weight around in the playground. They land with a clatter and set about their business.

Parakeets with ringed necks make occasional visits to our garden in south London. They come in large groups, resembling colorful bandits on a mission to quickly snatch and grab. Their vibrant yellow-green feathers are complemented by a ruby-colored beak, matching eye rings, and a slim collar around the males’ necks, which gives them their name. One may find these birds quite appealing, adding a pop of color to an otherwise dull bird-filled scenery, particularly during the winter season.

The parakeets are a topic of debate. Some admire their vibrant appearance and energy, while others criticize them as noisy pests. Personally, I am somewhere in between, appreciating their flashy flying skills but also worried about their rapid increase in numbers and potential impact on other birds and bats that nest in cavities. At one point, there was even discussion of reducing their population through a cull.

It has been 40 years since they were officially added to the British list in 1983. My first encounter with them was shortly after on a cricket field in Teddington, and the memory of it is still vivid as it resulted in me missing a crucial catch (although I maintain it was due to their presence). While they used to be limited to specific areas, they are now a common sight in London, with thousands roosting in parks. These birds have also expanded beyond their original territory in the south-east and can now be found nesting in towns and cities further north. This is a far cry from their natural habitats in Asia and central Africa. While there are myths surrounding their origins, such as being released by Jimi Hendrix or escaping from the set of The African Queen, the more likely explanation is that they were pets that escaped in multiple instances starting in the 1960s, coupled with their adaptability and high breeding rate.

Just as quickly as they appeared, they take off, darting close to the ground through the garden before shooting up high over the rooftops. The bird feeders sway like saloon doors in the wake of a newly arrived cowboy.

After a brief break, a coal tit lands on the moving feeder, bringing back a sense of order.

Source: theguardian.com