As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Jimi Hendrix is NOT to blame for Britain's plague of 170,000 parakeets: Scientists finally dispel urban legend by tracing historical sightings of the bright birds back to the 1800s

Legend claims the birds were released by Jimi Hendrix or Humphrey Bogart 
Others claim a plane crash or burglars in George Michael's home released them 
New study disproves these theories and says it was likely due to many low-profile releases of unwanted pet parakeets over decades 

PUBLISHED: 00:01, 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:21, 12 December 2019

Urban legend has a range of outlandish theories for the origin of Britain's parakeets, including Jimi Hendrix, Humphrey Bogart and George Michael. 

But their true origin in the UK has nothing to do with such glamorous celebrity myths, according to new research, which reveals sightings of the birds actually date back to the 1800s. 

It has been claimed that Jimi Hendrix released the first pair of parakeets, called Adam and Eve, as a symbol of peace when he was stoned in London's Carnaby Street in 1968. A rival theory maintains that the birds escaped from the set of The African Queen, the film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, in 1951.

But a study, published today in the Journal of Zoology, reveals the birds were reported in Britain as far back as 1855, when one was seen in Norfolk.

The data was drawn from the plotting of parakeet sightings between 1968 and 2014, resulted in 5,072 points across the country. Researchers also looked at newspaper archives from 1800 onwards but did not find any news reports on parakeets being released by Hendrix or The African Queen 

The researchers now believe parakeet numbers may have been boosted by escapes from British bird houses damaged in the Great Storm of 1987.

Experts also suspect many parakeets kept as pets were released en masse after an outbreak of 'parrot fever' in 1929, 1930 and 1952, as newspaper articles urged the public to stay away from the 'dangerous birds'. 

Sarah Cox of Goldsmiths, University of London, says pet owners would have found it less distressing to simply set their bird free from a window than have it destroyed. 

Ring-necked parakeets are an exotic bird native to Asia which now terrorise many UK neighbourhoods. 

Despite originating in warmer climes, they have adapted well to British weather and actually thrive in cities such as London. 

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