|TALKING POINT: Two of the birds tuck in to a pre-Christmas feast of|
AT this time of year people might expect to see finches, sparrows and a robin or two on their feeders...
But those living in North Solihull should start to keep their eye out for a rather more exotic visitor to their gardens - the ringed-necked parakeet!
The species - which has vivid green plumage and a distinctive red beak - is native to Africa and Asia.
In recent years, feral populations of the brightly coloured parrot have become increasingly common in suburban London and the South East. Indeed, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has suggested that the British population could now be as large as 32,000.
Sightings in the West Midlands are much rarer, although back in 2012, scientists had suggested that the colonies in and around the capital were migrating to the region.
Now there have been a number of reports in and around the Cole Valley; indeed Other Side of Solihull's editor spotted two of the birds in his back garden on Christmas Eve.
We'd like readers' help in trying to determine how widespread the species is locally. So if you've seen a parakeet in the North Solihull area let us know.
- The ringed-necked parakeets have rapidly established themselves in the UK in the space of a few decades, adapting to our colder climate and finding a plentiful supply of food.
- Stories about how the population got started are almost as colourful as the birds themselves. Some claim that several specimens escaped during filming on the action-adventure film The African Queen - shot in London in the early 1950s. Others report that the late guitar legend Jimi Hendrix released a couple of the parakeets in Carnaby Street during the Swinging Sixties.
- There are concerns that the expanding population could ultimately pose problems for farmers and might out-compete native species such as nuthatches and woodpeckers.