A park in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, has become home to a colorful flock of rose-ringed parakeets. This nonnative species has thrived since its population in Japan got its start in the form of escaped pets. With a lifespan of some 30 years, these birds could pose a nuisance with their noise and droppings, as well as a threat to native species, for years to come.
Alien Birds Bewilder Locals
It is an early summer evening in the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa. As dusk sets in, droves of parrots begin to gather in the trees of a local park. Loud squawks from the birds—around 370 in total—can be heard throughout the surrounding area. Their numbers are like something out of a Hitchcock film.
Residents living around the park express discomfort with the appearance of this flock of unusual bird and their obnoxious cries.
This disturbing local population of birds are rose-ringed parakeets, a species not native to Japan. The bird is a popular choice of pet—but, evidently, also a type with a particular aptitude for escaping to the wild. Now these parrots, having reverted back to a feral state, are reproducing in huge numbers.
Rose-ringed parakeets are often found in India and Sri Lanka, where their taste for fruit has caused them to be labeled as pests by farmers.
The birds appeared earlier this year during March in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, where people witnessed them eating the petals of the blooming cherry trees.
A Lifespan of 30 Years
Why has this popular breed of pet parrot, not native to Japan, become a feral population reproducing in large numbers?
Iguchi Yumiko, manager of the pet shop Konpamaru located in Ueno, Tokyo, a store specializing in parrots, says she believes the cause to be owners who bought the birds as pets accidentally letting them escape.
Parakeets have a rather long lifespan of 30 years and are highly territorial. Experts believe that they are moving in on other native species’ territories and could potentially force them out.
In the area surrounding the Kawasaki park where the parrots have flocked are a number of high-rise apartments. Residents claim they are worried about problems the birds may cause, such as excessive squawking and droppings.
The Kawasaki city government says it has yet to receive any complaints regarding the parrots, though.
However, if the birds begin to pose significant problems to residents in the future, the city plans to consult with animal welfare centers about potential solutions.
(Originally published in Japanese on FNN’s Prime News Evening, July 2, 2018.)