Colourful migrants: the feral parakeets of the UK
Feral parakeets are wild-living, non-native birds that have established themselves as a colourful addition to the UK's wildlife. There are now estimated to be nearly 9, 000 breeding pairs in Britain. The origins of these birds are subject to speculation, but are generally thought to have bred from those that escaped from captivity.
The British parakeet population is mostly concentrated in suburban areas of London and the Home Counties of South-East England, and for this reason the birds are sometimes known as "Kingston parakeets" or "Twickenham parakeets", after the London suburbs.
A number of theories abound about how the parakeet population came to exist and thrive in England including that they escaped or were released.
Stories include parakeets escaping from Isleworth Studios, when The African Queen was filmed (1951); escapees from damaged aviaries during the Great Storm of 1987; a pair released by musician Jimi Hendrix in London's Carnaby Street in the 1960s; and a number reportedly escaped from a pet shop in Sunbury-on-Thames in 1970.
Most ornithologists believe that the original birds probably escaped from aviaries in the 1960's.
The British birds are considered a hybrid population of two Asian subspecies, P.k. borealis and P.k. manillensis.
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