Think of England’s capital, and all the images it brings to mind. Red buses, Buckingham Palace, Westminster…. So many iconic sights in this bustling capital. The city is busy, metropolitan and sometimes grey; exotic birds are not something you would associate with London! But London has some incredible parks, a place to escape the rat race, huge expanses where it is easy to forget for a moment that you are in England’s busiest city. In some of those parks, wildlife is everywhere. My favourite find since moving to London? The stunning green parakeets in Kensington Gardens!
Why are parakeets living in London?!
My thoughts exactly when I moved here. I first saw (and heard) a couple near my flat, around the Notting Hill area. They were up in the trees, chewing on branches. I thought that they were perhaps an escaped pair of pets. Weeks later, I saw a flock in the trees in Holland Park. This sparked my interest and I did a bit of research. Where did London’s parakeet population come from? There are plenty of theories to be found online and from locals, such as:
- Escaped from the set of a film, possibly African Queen, filmed at Ealing studios in 1951.
- The great storm of 1987 damaged aviaries, and the parakeets escaped.
- Jimi Hendrix released a breeding pair in the 60’s on Carnaby Street.
- They escaped from George Michael’s house in the 90’s.
All rather romantic theories, but the first recorded sighting of a parakeet in London was in Dulwich in 1893. Which means there is no truth in any of those stories. The frustrating truth is : we just don’t know why there are parakeets living in London.
Where are the parakeets in Kensington Gardens?
First of all, it seems like the parakeets in Kensington Gardens have moved slightly to different areas of the park over time. Not unusual, but it can make them harder to spot. When I first went parakeet hunting I was following the directions from an older blog post. They were no where near where that post said they were, so can only assume they move ever now and then.
Of course, they are not in one spot all the time, and can be seen flying through the park often. However, there is one particular place you can be guaranteed to see the parakeets in London. I will try to explain in as much detail how to get there!
From North / East sides or Hyde Park
The easiest way to find the parakeets in Kensington Gardens if you are coming from Hyde Park or the North/East sides is to make your way to the Peter pan Statue. Type it into google maps and it will take you straight there. Otherwise, the easiest way to find the statue is to head to the “Italian Gardens”. Keeping the water on your left, walk South.
In 3 minutes time, you will find the statue on your right.
Once here, you only need to continue South, with the water still to your right, for 50 metres or so. Here, the path forks into two, and it is at this fork that you will find the parakeets. Look into the bushes on your left and right, they will be there I guarantee!
If you walk South from the Peter Pan statue, and can see the white Henry Moore arch statue then you have gone too far!!
From the West / Kensington Palace
If you are looking for the parakeets and you are on the West side of the park (perhaps you have just finished visiting the peacocks in Holland Park!), or near Kensington Palace, then first find the pond! Near impossible to miss, the pond in directly in front of the palace and pretty big! You want to be on the East side of the pond, so your back is to the palace. Look ahead – if you can see the horse statue, you are on the right track! Walk to the horse and past it.
Once you pass the horse, you will see the Arch statue, designed by Henry Moore. Keep walking towards that and you will eventually find yourself at the waters edge.
Once opposite Henry Moore’s statue, turn left. Keeping the water on your right, walk around 30 metres. If you get o the Peter Pan statue, you have gone too far! You should have railings on your right, and a path joining yours on the left. This is where you will find the parakeets!
Should I feed the parakeets?
I have never condoned feeding wild animals, and so I wont start now. I am a big believer that it negatively affects animals and their behaviour in the long term, as it makes them reliant on humans. Sadly, the parakeets in Kensington gardens are most definitely reliant on humans. Every single time that I have visited this spot, there have been people feeding the parakeets. Honestly, I go an awful lot as I live near by, and they are always being fed! This means that the birds now rely on us for their food, and so we could never realistically just stop feeding them at this point.
If you really do want to feed them, they love peanuts and apples from what I have seen. They are very gentle birds, so you can safely hold your hand out and they will land on you. There are always lots of pigeons around, but they never try to jump on your hand, so don’t worry about them! If you don’t have any food, you can always hold your hand out, and they sometimes hop on anyway!
Where else can I see parakeets in London?
Whilst you are almost guaranteed to see the parakeets in this corner of Kensington Gardens, they also live elsewhere in London. There are several in Richmond Park, another beautiful London Park, also home to a herd of deer. To the north, Regent’s park is often frequented by the parakeets too.
The parakeets have also spread out further afield than the capital. it is thought that there have been sightings in Manchester. There is also a small flock in Victoria Park, Glasgow. They are actually thought to be the most northerly flock in the world!
The future of London’s parakeets.
Whilst the birds are not aggressive, they are not a native species. Some speculate that they could have a detrimental effect on our native wildlife. They are known to crowd bird feeders, and compete with our native bird species for nesting places. In many country, parakeets are seen as a pest, and are damaging to crops. It is hard to believe anyone could see these beautiful birds as a nuisance, but it seems they can be quite destructive.
At the moment, there seems to be no definitive answer on how many parakeets live in the UK. However, it is certain that the number is growing year on year. With their reputation as pests, it may well mean action could be taken against the parakeets in the future if their number continues to grow. They do have predators, so perhaps no action will every need to be taken, as bigger bird’s of prey keep numbers in check.
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