The Green Invaders

No, I’m not talking about Martians, but about the rose-ringed parakeet, a medium-sized parrot 40 cm (16 in) in length (including the long tail feathers). They are native to Africa and South Asia, but — being able to survive low winter temperatures — have already colonised most of Western and Northern Europe. These are very noisy fellows indeed, with an unmistakable loud squawk. They have invaded Amsterdam since 1976, live mostly in the Vondel­park and Sarphati­park and are here to stay.

Two roseringed paraqueets in a tree in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

In the park they nest in holes in trees, where they also find shelter from the cold. Woodpeckers create the holes in the trees to nest and the paraqueets take over the holes in the next year. They are not bothered by city noise, in fact they seem to thrive on noise — it may help them sleep. They sleep high up in trees in large groups.

Some hate this little troublemaker, with its unreal green color (which is almost hurtful to the eyes in a non-tropical environment), bothered by its hysterical shrieking, others think it’s a funny addition to the city. Apple growers hate them wholeheartedly, as they have a nasty habit of taking one bite out of an apple, moving on to the next apple for one bite and so on. And they only do this with apples. Silly paraqueets.

Two roseringed paraqueets sitting on a ledge

At the moment they are a force to be reckoned with, estimated 10,000 in the Nether­lands, some 4,000 in Amsterdam. Many great stories go around about how they were introduced into our landscape, but the truth still eludes us. They regularly do the rounds in Amsterdam, from the Vondel­park to the Beatrix­park, to the Rembrandt­park and over the Nieuwe Meer to Amstel­veen, on to the Artis Zoo and then back to the center of town. All the while, being a group animal like the starling, emitting very loud squawks during their flight.

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