Originating in the tropics, the ring-necked parakeet, also known as the rose-ringed parakeet, is the UK’s only naturalised parrot. It is believed that the resident population established itself by the progressive colonisation of escaped domestic birds.
The adult ring-necked parakeet is a large robust parrot with a long narrow tail and pointed wings. It has a red coloured curved and hooked beak and grey green legs. Both males and females have bright green plumage, lighter on the chest and back than the wings and tail, but only the adult males have a black chin and pinky red circle around the neck, from which this bird gets its name.
Close up of a Ring-necked Parakeet
The UK resident ring-necked parakeet is the most northerly breeding parrot in the world.
This parakeet can sound very raucous and is excellent at mimicking sounds, even human voices. In flight and when roosting, they can be very noisy uttering a medium to high pitched screech or squawk and sometimes even a whistle.
Although predominantly a fruit eater the ring-necked parakeet also feeds on seeds, grain, nuts and berries as well as household scraps and will often take food from gardens and off bird tables. Generally, they are early morning and late afternoon feeders.
Ring-necked Parakeet on bird feeder
The ring-necked parakeet is considered a pest and it is estimated that the current population within the UK is up to 25,000 pairs.
There have been sightings of individual birds in almost every county of the UK. However, they are concentrated in the Greater London and Home Counties area although more recently, they have also appeared in small populations in the Midlands, East Anglia and Lincolnshire. They are normally seen in suburban parks, orchards and gardens and can frequently be seen roosting in flocks of around thirty birds.
A male Ring-necked Parakeet on branch
After early morning feeding birds will often congregate in large flocks and roost in trees in public parks, particularly around London and will often be heard before being seen. Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Hampstead Heath and Battersea Park are just a few popular London locations for sightings of the ring-necked parakeet.
Rather than build their own nests they prefer to occupy old nests from other birds particularly woodpecker nests built in holes in trees as well as utilising medium to large sized nesting boxes. They can start nesting as early as January with the breeding season coming to an end in June. A clutch of 2 – 4 eggs is laid and after hatching the young birds normally fledge at around forty to fifty days with both parents caring for the young in the nest. These birds may produce more than one clutch each season.
The lifespan of birds in the wild is believed to be around nine years although the record for a captive bird is thirty-four years.