These flocks of wild green Indian ringneck parakeets (Psittacula krameri) have oft caused visitors to London’s public parks wonder and surprise, the birds’ relative tameness occasioning the whipping out of phones and cameras. The ringnecks have also spread to nearby Kent and Surrey, their numbers estimated as anywhere between 17,000 and 35,000.
Presumably, the birds arrived as pets, an original few purportedly gifted by India to the Royals, the majority seemingly escapees from the set of an Isleworth studio’s famous 1951 flick, The African Queen. According to Oliver Marshall, the first known successful breeding pair went down in history in 1961.
Anika fell in love with these gentle, semi-tame birds on first sight. Having been involved as a volunteer at the park for several years, this winter Anika has devoted herself to keeping the Indian ringnecks and other birds of Kensington Gardens healthily fed throughout the winter. She had noticed how the young were particularly disadvantaged under winter conditions and has been particularly concerned about them.
Anika is raising money on Facebook to help defray the birds’ grocery bill; Anika travels to market at least twice weekly for provisions for them. The apples can be affixed to the wrought iron fencing and provide both energy and fluids over a longer period of time than the daily feeding. You can contribute to Anika’s winter mission, To Feed the Wild Animals Who Depend on Humans.
Below we provide some tips from RSPB on what you can do to help the wild birds in your neighborhood make it through winter:
- Identify each species feeding in your backyard and learn what that species needs in its diet.
- . Consider providing leftovers from your meals.
- Don’t give improper foods from amongst the leftovers: Avoid giving straight fat, as it can get on feathers and keep the bird from properly insulating itself, don’t give mould or salty foods (salt is poisonous to birds, expand this)
- If you give dried fruits, keep them away from your other pets for whom they are too rich.
- Provide fresh water and keep it from freezing solid by putting a wooden stick or plastic ball in it. If providing a bath, line the bath with polyethylene so that the ice that has formed can easily be removed by lifting the polyethylene. Consider providing warmth by placing a candle in a tin can underneath the water source, sheltering the flame from wind with bricks, or consider using a powered radiant element like an immersion heater or a light bulb place in a tiling pipe under the water. Add absolutely no chemicals as chemicals could compromise the birds’ feathers’ ability to provide insulation.
- Provide only what will be eaten in one day to avoid attracting pests to your backyard.
- 6. Clean feeders regularly to prevent disease.
- Participate in a 40 year-old global activity, the worldwide Big Garden Birdwatch.
- Plan ahead for what you can provide in spring and summer.