The Curious Case of Parakeets in London

Last Updated on December 29, 2023 by Ali Shahid

There are thousands of parakeets in the Greater London area. The most common parakeet species in London is the ring-necked parakeet. According to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), about 12,000 breeding pairs are estimated as of 2022.

Interestingly ring-necked parakeets are from Asia so how did they end up in London? The origin of London’s parakeet community carries an intriguing tale. Some popular theories exist regarding the origins of the parakeet in London.

For example, Jimi Hendrix released a mating pair in the 1960s. It is also possible that a storm damaged several aviaries in the 1980s, or that a flock escaped during the Humphrey Bogart movie The African Queen. It is also unclear how the parakeet affects local species

In the heart of the capital, you’ll find nearly ten places where large groups of ring-necked parakeets settle for the evening. One notable location is the poplar trees at Hither Green Cemetery, where thousands of these birds gather overnight. Additionally, areas like Richmond Park, Kew Gardens, Wormwood Scrubs, Hyde Park, and Brockwell Park are known for witnessing this mesmerizing sight of parakeets coming together in abundance.

They are generalist feeders that seem well adapted to the colder climate and urban settings of southern England. Here we will examine how parakeets arrived in London. What is the dominant parakeet species in London? How do people feel about the ring-necked parakeet and the problems associated with parakeets in London?

How did parakeets come to London?

The best thing about living in London is seeing flocks of vivid green parakeets. However, having them nest directly outside your window for a long period can be annoying.

Every time they feel their companion is missing, they make a loud squawk noise. People ask for tips on how to encourage parakeets to visit their gardens on online forums.

A few posts later, they are seeking advice on how to get them to leave once again because of loud noises. But from where did they come from? These are ring-necked parakeets living in London, which originate from the Indian subcontinent.

How did hundreds of them wind up in the wild on an overcast island off the northern coast of Europe? You can find a lot of theories floating around the internet. Among the more prominent:

  1. African Queen Movie

Filming for The African Queen took place at Isleworth Studios in 1951. The parrots that starred alongside Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in the film escaped. As parrots do, they produce a lot of chicks.

London’s southwestern corner has the most birds, which fits this explanation. The African Queen doesn’t have any parrots, so this just doesn’t fit.

According to some versions of the myth, they escaped from Shepperton Studios, but that wasn’t the location for The African Queen.

  • Damage by Great Storm

In 1987, the Great Storm destroyed southern England and northern France. The storm knocked down six of Sevenoaks’ renowned oak trees.

Some parrots are believed to have escaped after aviaries in the Surrey area were opened by a wind gust.

It’s hard to prove this, and nobody knows why London only has one kind of exotic bird.

  • Burglary in George Michael’s House

A burglar broke into George Michael’s house in the 1990s and trashed the place, causing the parakeets to flee. It is not clear why George Michael never spoke about it, despite being a loud and outspoken man in general.

  • A Plane Crash

A plane crash at Syon Park in the 1970s released the first wild parrots. This is again in line with geography. There is also something curiously dramatic and specific about this explanation.

  • A Romantic Theory

There are various stories to explain parakeets in London, but this is probably the most romantic. A couple of birds were released from a cage on Carnaby Street by Jimi Hendrix in 1968.

However, he has never been seen to do anything of the sort, which is unfortunate for romance fans. According to a BBC article from 2019, Jimi Hendrix has been cleared of responsibility for releasing the UK parakeet.

Why are these Parakeets multiplying in such numbers?

As Rosenthal reports in the Times, there are several theories:

  • It is easy for parakeets to adopt
  • They have found the climate to be comfortable
  • There may be more exotic plants being planted by gardeners
  • The availability of food that is more familiar to the Parakeets
  • It may just be that residents of suburbs are increasing bird feeders and offering more seeds to birds.
  • Sparrowhawks, which feed on other foods, are the only predators.

The rose-ringed (also known as ring-necked) parakeet was declared an invasive species by Natural England two years ago, which allowed them to be shot without a permit. London Wildlife Trust claims it is discriminatory because exotic birds are part of British culture.

Feeding London Ring-necked Parakeet

When considering feeding London’s Ring-necked Parakeets, diversity in their diet is key for their health. Opt for foods like peanuts, sunflower hearts, and specialized seed blends made for these birds.

Introducing fresh fruits like apples and grapes, along with vegetables such as carrots, ensures they get the necessary nutrients. Steer clear of processed or sugary treats, as these may pose risks to their health. Always remember to offer them fresh water daily to keep them hydrated and thriving.

Ring-necked parakeet London

Ring-necked parakeets are medium-sized, green parrots that are now native to the UK. It is believed that the ring-necked parakeet originated in Africa and southern Asia.

They have been kept as pets in the UK for centuries. Despite this, they have escaped and become naturalized, especially in the southeast thanks to warmer winters.

Often seen roosting in flocks of hundreds, they nest in holes in trees in gardens and parks.

London Parakeets’ problem

There is a divide among Londoners over the parakeets. On YouTube, one gardener shows how he makes fancy decoys to attract birds before shooting them with an air rifle. Others accept them as they are.

According to Hunt, who interviewed many people for his book, there are a lot of different opinions. There is rarely anything in the middle that we can agree on. It seems that either people love them or hate them.

In some cases, the conversation quickly moved away from parakeets to issues such as immigration. Parakeets became symbols of people’s fears.

As we researched this topic before the Brexit referendum, we found anti-immigrant sentiment creeping into the discussion. Meanwhile, others viewed them as examples of harmony and diversity.

These people project their ideas about the concept of multiculturalism onto their parakeets. There is no clear indication yet of whether parakeets are harming native species.

DEFRA reports that ring-necked parakeets are adversely affecting both their native and introduced ranges. In addition to being a major crop pest, they have the potential to transmit diseases and compete for breeding sites with others.

It is considered a “secondary cavity nester”. Therefore, it does not make a nest in a tree—it simply sticks its head into an existing one.

Because parakeets nest early, a nuthatch or owl seeking a nesting place will almost certainly find a No Vacancy sign. The parakeet also monopolizes nesting sites for a long time due to its long incubation period.

According to Walton of the RSPB, parakeets are not a concern. He says parakeets have a severe impact on seed crops in other parts of the world, such as Asia.

We don’t have that here in this country. Additionally, he does not believe the birds harm other wildlife. Researchers in Belgium found that they competed for nesting sites with nuthatches, but it’s not likely to pose a serious conservation issue.

Parakeets have attacked bats in Spain, but there is no evidence of real impacts on wildlife in the UK.

Is culling Parakeets in London an option?

Since 2016, the bird population in Madrid has grown by 33 percent. In 2019, the capital sterilized 12,000 eggs. Rumors are circulating in London that hired guns are hunting down many of the city’s parakeets.

Will British animal lovers accept the government’s killing of thousands of birds? Considering the sensitivities, DEFRA decided to rule out culling in March 2021.

Walton says it is too late to eliminate parakeets, even if they had significant ecological impacts, which they have not. The ring-necked parakeet is simply too well-established to be eradicated.

It is important to learn from London’s parakeet population’s explosive growth. There is a huge problem with invasive species introduced by humans. As a result, they contribute significantly to biodiversity loss, nature, climate emergency, and altered habitats.

We need to be much more intelligent about how plants and animals are transported around the world. Animals or plants that are not native to the area should never be released into the wild by people.

People also ASK

Where can I find parakeets in London?

There are probably no better places in London to see, feed, and photograph green parrots than Kensington Gardens (close to Hyde Park). It is common for birds to interact with humans here. Feeding them will be very easy because they’ll come very close to you.

Are parakeets a problem in London?

Rose-ringed parakeets are flocking in large numbers to the suburbs of London. Birds originally from India and Africa have moved in large numbers to England, disrupting residents and potentially threatening crops.

Are there wild parakeets in London?

The answer is yes, they number in the thousands. Newcomers are often surprised by the green flash and exotic squawk of these birds. But Londoners have been accustomed to it for a long time. It is impossible to forget the first time you held a parakeet.

Can you shoot parakeets in London?

In the UK, they are now considered pests and can be shot as a result of their growing numbers. Despite the EU’s ban on all bird shooting, ring-necked parakeets and monk parakeets can be culled in Britain under general gun licenses.


Pithon, Josephine A., and Calvin Dytham. “Distribution and population development of introduced Ring-necked Parakeets Psittacula krameri in Britain between 1983 and 1998.” Bird Study 49.2 (2002): 110-117.

Butler, Christopher J., et al. “The breeding biology of Rose-ringed Parakeets Psittacula krameri in England during a period of rapid population expansion.” Bird Study 60.4 (2013): 527-532.

Peck, Hannah Louise. Investigating Ecological Impacts of the Non-native Population of Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula Krameri) in the UK. Diss. Imperial College London, 2013.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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