Whilst taking a stroll through Greenwich Park yesterday, in the company of people who know more about birdsong than I do (not hard – I can identify a seagull at best) they stopped in their tracks under a tree by the deer enclosure. They insisted the bird call above them was not native.
After a fair amount of squinting and disbelief on my part, we were astonished to see a rather large green parrot sitting about halfway up the leafy canopy, staring down at us somewhat blearily.
Apparently the population of wild parrots living in Britain is increasing at the staggering rate of 30% per year according to a survey by Oxford University. They like suburban gardens best, because people feed them and there are plenty of fruit and berry trees around but they are also becoming common in London parks.
How they got there is subject to serious speculation – most assume they are escaped pets, but other theories range from damaged aviary escapees after the storms of 1987 through a botched Heathrow container load to the accidental release during the making of a film. My own favourite nutty theory is the one that Jimi Hendrix released them on a particularly wild visit in the 1960s.
Luckily there is a charity to support such creatures, so if you suspect a parrot of having been mistreated or lost, then don’t hesitate to contact the wonderfully inclusive Birdline Parrot Rescue, whose mission includes “to provide a refuge to every orphaned, unwanted, and injured parrot regardless of species.”