African Ring-Necked Parakeet

Rose ringed Parakeets The ring necked parakeets of Amsterdam

Zoology with: African Ring-Necked Parakeet

Traits:  African ring-necked parakeets are affectionate birds that needs enough attention to keep it from getting bored, but enough independence to spend time alone on a playgym. African ring-necked parakeets are shy and quieter than Indian ring-necked parakeets. They need to be handled and socialized often when young in order to keep them tame. African ring-necked parakeets enjoy bathing with their owners while staying on a shower perch to catch drops of water. They make good companions that can be taught to snuggle and perform elaborate tricks.
Behavior/Health Concerns:  African ring-necked parakeets enjoy a diet filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, pellets, parrot seed mixtures, cuttlebone and fresh water. Both the male and female are primarily light green with a greenish-yellow hue on the under parts. The male has a black stripe across the mandible that circles the neck and extends to its rose pink collar washed with a light blue. Male African ring-necked parakeets also have a light blue and thin black line across the beak and to the eyes. Females lack the rose pink collar, blue on the neck and the thin black mandible stripe. Instead of a black ring, found on the males, the females have a light green collar and only a hint of the black line leading to the eyes.

But African Ring-Nakerd Parakeet isn’t only in Africa, it’s in fact strangely spread in several north european capitals, among them London, Brussels and Amsterdam.

Walking along one of the many canals or in one of the easy going parks you cannot miss the bright green coloured parakeets that inhabit the Dutch capital city. However, for many it is mysterious how these tropical birds seem to thrive here so easily. The combination of a low breeding success with the availability of good nest holes and food seems to allow this exotic species to live peacefully next to its native neighbours.

ring necked parakeet

The ring necked parakeets of Amsterdam

A Ringnecked Parakeet – halsbandparkiet – sitting on branch of a tree in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam.

It is well known that tropical parakeet species are popular as pets. Interestingly, an increasing number of Ringnecked Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) have adapted to live in urban areas far away from their tropical home grounds and established feral populations in a number of European cities.

A growing group of Ringnecked Parakeets – often confused with parrots – have been living in Amsterdam since 1976. The very first birds were released pets that managed to survive the cold dutch winter by living in old trees in the well known Vondelpark. In the meantime, the exotic species has expanded to areas far outside the city centre. With their bright green feathers the exotic birds distinguished themselves from the dutch native species.

The Vondelpark is the main breeding place of these social birds. Bird countings in 2004 and 2006 revealed that more than 2000 Ringnecked Parakeets were living in Amsterdam. Biologist Roelant Jonker who was the organiser of the countings postulated that 99 % of the birds was born in the wild (dutch link).

Apparently, for the birds it is not even a problem to find food and warmth during the cold dutch winters, with the continuous feeding by people always having played an important role. Nevertheless, their breeding success is much lower in West-Europe compared to India where these beautiful birds are native (dutch link).

ring necked parakeet on tree The ring necked parakeets of AmsterdamA ring-necked parakeet on a tree. Photograph: Greenpeace/Baker

Although the increase in numbers is less strong than was feared for, the careful monitoring of exotic species is important. Research has shown that about 1 in 10 exotic species manifests itself as a plague (dutch link). Although there is not much hard proof, it has been shown that in areas where many Ringnecked Parakeets are living, lower numbers of birds species that also nest in holes are observed.

The possible competition for nestholes, resulted in a front-page article in Trouw, a major dutch newspaper, stating ‘Indian Ringnecked Parakeet expels our native woodpeckers’. Furthermore, recently members of the Dutch Parliament stated that this tropical bird species should be repelled because of their nest hole competition.

Overall, in the Netherlands as well as in Belgium, it seems however that the ecological impact of the green exotic bird is low. The birds have good possibilities to further expand their living area beyond the parks of the dutch ‘Randstad’, thereby only to a small amount influencing the populations of native birds. Furthermore, most people living in Amsterdam as well as the many tourists seem to like the brightly coloured birds. SOVON, the society for dutch bird research, even announced 2004 as the year of the Ringnecked Parakeet.

 Walking through the snow covered Vondelpark I see a small group of the brightly feathered birds high up on the leafless branches of an old tree. Although their high-pitched twittering is noisy, their beautiful green feathers contrast enormously with the dreary tints of winter grey. Furthermore, their intense social interactions and assertive behaviour make them interesting to observe. If indeed the following years the birds will continue to be able to live jointly with the native birds, for me and many others the birds are a colourful addition to Amsterdam life.
The population of ring necked parakeets (Psittacula) in the Netherlands has almost doubled to 10,000 since 2004, according to Dutch bird organisations.

parrot in amsterdam

parrot in amsterdam

— article from birdchannel.com and mudfooted.com —

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