Wednesday 19 July 2023

Yellow Parakeet

A propos of nothing at all, here is a yellow Parakeet that graced my garden at the start of the month. As you perhaps know we are plagued by Ring-necked Parakeets in London. Once a phenomenon in the south-west of the city, these communal roosts of thousands of birds have spread hugely in the last decade. I still vividly remember doing a double-take in Wanstead Park in about 2008 when walking alongside Heronry - I had overtaken the bird by some 50 yards by the time my brain kicked in and I realised that I had just seen a new bird for the patch. It took another year to get one for the garden, a real fist-pump moment. How foolish. Fast-forward a few years and my high count is 1,427, recorded in just over an hour early on morning from my balcony in the autumn of 2020. Earlier this year I saw one in Fife, again a moment of sheer disbelief, my brain refusing to accept this record, perhaps still with a London filter in place. I have seen little hard data about the damage or detriment they cause to native species, but on any given day here in my little corner of London if you were to invest any time in counting bird numbers this bright green pestilence would top your list almost every time. This is the first yellow one I've seen though, so momentarily exciting. The fact it has taken me nearly three weeks to even mention it tells you all you need to know. I wonder what caused it, perhaps some kind of nutrional deficiency? Excuse the obvious ghosting on the image, I grabbed the first camera I could find and it was set to HDR mode having previously been used on a tripod for some landscape shots. This meant that when I pressed the shutter it took three shots in rapid succession each at a slight different setting and combined them - on a firm tripod this can really make an image pop. In the hands of a desperate man intent on recording a wonder of avian morphology, less so.

Also a propos of nothing at all I envisage a little spare time coming up where I hope to make some inroads into some more trips I've been on, including a short visit to Lisbon which was wonderful, and other holiday in Madeira in April. No, still no waders of note - some Common Sandpipers but nothing better than that. Adios.


  1. Well, I first read that as ring-necked pheasants, so for a moment I had a wonderful vision of London festooned with fabulous game birds. I was going to suggest that you ate them.

    Anyway, I suspect that your yellow bird has a genetic mutation, especially as these parakeets were originally, and probably still are, bred as pets. As I'm sure you know, red, orange and yellow pigments in birds are derived from the diet whereas blue is structural. Green, which is not particularly common, is a combination of the two - there is a pigment element and a structural element. The bird's beak is normal colour, so it seems likely that there is something amiss with the way the feathers reflect light.

    Love your blog, thanks for all the work you do to keep it running and people like me entertained.

  2. Cheers Jill! festooned is a great and underused word. And Parakeets do festoon....