The Daily Parakeet Supper Party

5:58 pm

The oak tree outside my window plays host to several guests over the course of the day.

Today afternoon is an afternoon of stillness, shared peacefully between two rather plump wood pigeons, a magpie and three blackbirds.

Even the normally chatty magpie has nothing to say and everyone is perfectly at ease with this collective lack of conversation, preening or simply perching on top of a carefully chosen branch. It all seems very civilized.

As the afternoon draws to a close, a new group of visitors decides to join this silent and peaceful gathering. The group constitutes five parakeets, coloured bright and green with flashes of yellow in their tails. The parakeets don’t share the perspective of the old guests and are loud and excitable.

Here's a picture of one of the five:

The old guests tolerate the new arrivals for some brief moments but the parakeets then begin talking at the same time. This is too much for the rest of the party and it disintegrates quickly - the pigeons are the first to depart, followed by the magpie and then the blackbirds. As the blackbirds leave, the oak tree, barren except for its fruit and a few dry leaves, seems to shimmer in the wind, and a small group of robins come out of hiding and fly away in different directions.

The parakeets have now taken full control over the tree. Their friends begin to arrive and within a few moments, the tree is full of guests for the Daily Parakeet Supper Party.

After some noisy exchanges, the party splits up into batches. One by one, each batch swoops down to my neighbour’s garden which is full of bird-feeders.

I find it bizarre to see these tropical birds squawking away in such a gay manner in London in the middle of February when the temperatures are in negatives.

Apparently, they are all descendents of pets who were probably brought to this country from Asia and were released or managed to escape captivity.

The RSPB website informs me that although this alien group have lived in the wild for a long time, they only started to breed in 1969, in Kent, south-east of London.

The parakeets must have done their job really well because their population has increased by a significant amount since then with over five thousand ring-necked parakeets spread across England.

My Collin's Bird Guide assures me that the parakeets haven’t caused any problems to the environment yet but might in the future if their numbers grow at a faster rate. The reason that they are able to survive British weather so successfully is because of the number of scraps and bird-feeders found in urban areas, gardens, parks etc.

I find this fascinating but what amuses me the most is that these birds are normally vegetarians in Asia but have become omnivores in England.

After supper, the parakeet party say goodbye to each other and depart.

The oak tree might host a few more guests later this evening but the parakeets won’t be back until early next morning for the Daily Parakeet Breakfast Party and that was an entirely different party altogether.

I imagine the tree heaving a sigh of relief as it settles down for a small period of some well-deserved solitude.

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