A rose-ringed parakeet (Latin name: Psittacula-krameri) photographed by Nicolas Renac

Parakeet census: “Let’s keep track of these birds”…

SPEA, Portugal’s society for the study of birds, is calling on citizens to help out in yet another national census, this time of rose-ringed parakeets.

These colourful, very sociable birds have been increasing in numbers in the wild – to the point that conservationists think it’s time they had a clear picture of where they all are.

For now, clusters are known to be thriving in the Greater Metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto, in Coimbra, Caldas da Rainha and the Azores.

There is no evidence in Portugal that these birds are impacting in any negative way on native biodiversity, but in Spain researchers have discovered “some evidence” in certain areas where the parakeets have been “competing with bats and owls for cavities in trees, where they nest”. They have also been seen to be “competing with fruit-eating birds for food”.

Thus SPEA’s initiative, which will be running through November.

Citizens out walking in the late afternoons are being asked to register any of these little birds they observe on periquitos.spea.pt.

“We ask if they could also note whether the birds are feeding or grouping around a tree in order to rest”, says SPEA’s Hany Alonso.

Originating from sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, rose-ringed parakeets have been seen in the wild in Portugal since the end of the 70s. In 2008, the population was thought to be around 270 birds, but since then the species has increased to the point there are now thought to be at least 650 parakeets living in the wild in just the Lisbon area.

Says SPEA, “thanks to our temperate climate and the availability of food, parakeets have adapted to the urban jungle in such a way that they could now pose a threat to certain native species in the country”.

The census initiative is running under an environmental project financed by the Active Citizens Fund (EEA Grants) made up of from public money coming from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and coordinated by Portugal through the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in consortium with the Bissaya Barreto Foundation. The project is in partnership with Wilder – Rewilding your days, and NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com