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Are Parakeets Considered as an Invasive Species to Europe?

Parakeets are small to medium-sized parrots that generally have long tail feathers. Some included in the genera are the budgerigars, monk parakeets, and plain parakeets. While they are abundant in South Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, they are not as common in Europe. So how did this species spread so rapidly in Europe?

In 1974, 40 parakeets were released from a zoo in Brussels. They were not expected to survive since they were not indigenous to Europe. Today there are 12,000 of them in Brussels and 50,000 in London. 

What Are Parakeets?

Parakeets thrive in warm regions. They are abundantly found in India, Sri Lanka, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and Southeast Asia. They form large flocks and can be quite a nuisance to grainfields. Most species of parakeets lay about four to eight eggs at a time, which explains how fast their population grows.

While these birds thrive in the wild, they are also kept as pets. They are very active and require a large space. They come in a variety of colors and can even mimic certain sounds and voices.

The most popular parakeet kept as pets are the budgerigar or shell parakeet, also known as the Melopsittacus undulatus. They are often mistaken as love birds and come in various colors. The color of the cere or the skin at the base of the bill helps differentiate their gender. Parakeets, in general, can live as long as 15 years. (Source: Britannica)

The Invasion of Europe

If you have ever been on a trip to Europe, you would notice a swarm of birds with unusual colors. They seem exotic and out of place, and that is because they are. They are happy, thriving, and come in thousands.

ParrotNet, the European monitoring platform, has identified over 50,000 parakeets in London, 12,000 in Brussels, 1,500 in Amsterdam, and about a thousand in Madrid. The question is, how did these exotic birds get to Europe, and why are there so many of them?

Parakeets were brought to Europe in the 1970s. They have either been set free on purpose or by accident, which explains why there is an abundance of them in the wild. In 1974, a zoo in Brussels had released about 40 rose-ringed parakeets. Around 50 parakeets escaped from a container at the Paris Orly Airport in France in that same year. The incident happened again in 1990 where several parakeets have escaped the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Ever since then, the parakeet population in Europe has steadily increased. The warm climate in the coastal regions of Europe enabled these tropical birds to survive. These birds rely on bird feeders put out by residents on cold winters. (Source: World Crunch)

Are They Pets or Pests?

In cities where the parakeet populations have increased significantly, the birds tend to spread further into the outskirts of the town in search of new spaces. This started to cause problems in suburban areas since they tend to wreak havoc on crops and trees. Economic losses because of their overpopulation are evident.

In Europe, the cost of invasive species as a whole is estimated at 12 billion euros a year. This figure takes into account the ecological, economic, and medical aspects.

Daniel Cherix

(Source: World Crunch)

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