Have you seen these green birds flying over Britain?

Seen a bright green bird flying over your garden? They are almost certainly ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula krameri) – originally native to Asia – that have established a resident breeding population in south-east England. There are large and well-documented colonies all over London, with birds regularly spotted in Kew Gardens and Richmond Park. Estimates put the total number of birds around the UK (they have been sighted as far north as Edinburgh) at up to 50,000. The parakeets are easy to spot thanks to their vivid green plumage, ruby-red bills and distinctive black rings around the face and neck. A handful of offbeat theories about how the birds became endemic to Britain have become entrenched in popular culture: one says that the birds escaped from a container at Heathrow Airport, another that they fled the set of a blockbuster being filmed in Surrey in 1951. Yet another purports that a pair were released by Jimi Hendrix in Carnaby Street in the 1960s. Urban legends? Perhaps. Either way, it looks like the UK’s only naturalised parrot is here to stay.

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