Recent claims that Defra are considering culling parakeets as they arrive in new areas of the UK has caused a stir on social media. 

UK residents have been quick to defend the country's only naturalised parrot, rumoured to have initially been established in the wild in south west London. 

Their numbers have steadily increased since the 1970s with 8,600 pairs now breeding annually in the UK according to the RSPB.

How they found themselves in the wild is continually debated, with claims that they escaped from Ealing studios on the set of 'The African Queen' in 1951, whilst another popular theory that a pair were ‘set free’ by Jimi Hendrix on Carnaby Street in the 1960s. 

Sightings of parakeets in the wild have been dated back to the mid-19th century after they were initially brought to the country as pets in the Victorian times.

The idea of a cull continues to divide opinion, with a deluge of Twitter backlash and even the recent creation of a government petition, 'do not order a cull of parakeets'.

Author of The Parakeeting of London, Nick Hunt, talked to Londoners for his book and observed that there is very little middle ground on the subject of parakeets.

He commented on how they allowed him to connect with people in the city from all walks of life and led into such interesting questions, for example around Britishness and belonging. 

Hunt said: "People often project a lot of things onto them, ideas on climate change, invasion, integration, multiculturalism - all these human ideas and values are put onto the birds." 

Concerns have been raised about their rising population threatening native bird species for habit and food, with reports by BirdGuides revealing parakeets have reached as far north as Aberdeenshire and west Devon since 2017. 

Originating from Africa and the Himalayas region, parakeets can cope with cold British winters, which has led to their success here. 

The RSPB commented: "There's currently no evidence, that we are aware of, of impacts on native wildlife by parakeets in the UK.

"The RSPB is not in favour of a cull of parakeets, but we think it is important that the spread of the ring-necked parakeet is monitored and impacts on our native bird species assessed."

The parakeets' bright green feathers and red beak are now as synonymous to the city as the great London Planes and their distinct, high pitched chirping, a defining characteristic of the parks and gardens of Ealing.

Through his research, Hunt said he found inspiration in the parakeets as they brightened up the sight and sound of the city, adding colour to the urban landscape. 

He added: "All of the stories that we are hearing are about loss and extinction and decline, so suddenly to see a species thriving, not just hanging on - on a very naive level that feels like something to celebrate."