Friday, 23 March 2007

Parakeets, a changing tide?

The pair of Stock Dove are back in our garden again, very happy to have them too. Some days I'll wait half an hour to do any gardening if they've flown in for a feed.

Couldn't help noticing a BBC News feature about the burgeoning Ringed-necked (or Rose-ringed) Parakeet population in the south of England.
Generally I'm of the opinion that British conservation can no longer really settle on ignoring the issues surrounding invasive non-native species. If we've learnt nothing else from Grey Squirrel, American Signal Crayfish, etc, it's that introducing exotic species of animal (and indeed plant) very seldom has the ecologically neutral impact we might hope for.
Even if the parakeets don't clash with any one particular bird species, I don't see how we can welcome a new competitor for nest holes and bird tables when the pressures some British bird populations have already caused significant declines in the last several decades, and I'm not sure it sets a very good precedent if we encourage their continuing presence. After all, what foreign species comes next?

The birds themselves are a memorable spectacle, but I think if we're really honest we know they don't belong here.
What I'm less sure about is whether the Environment Agency, conservation groups or the public, have the stomach to do what would be needed to remove these most characterful birds from the wild in Britain.

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