London's parakeets: beloved at Londonist HQ (exhibit A: editor-at-large Matt Brown covered in them, below).
They're not universally loved, though. A non-native species, ring-necked parakeet numbers across the UK are put at roughly 50,000 — with the highest concentration in London. In competition with native species for food sources and nesting sites, there's a risk the swell in parakeet numbers could drive other bird species into decline.
Other cities have seen a similar rise in parakeet numbers — including Manchester and Amsterdam — and several Spanish cities have a growing presence of another species, the monk parakeet, with Madrid planning a cull of more than 11,000.
A UK cull's been touted occasionally over the years with no obvious effect, though it has been and remains legal for landowners to shoot the birds without special licence. Focus on a cull seems to have intensified this winter, though (slow year, tbf? Not loads else the government might need to be focusing on?) with a Telegraph exclusive revealing a government source has stated Defra is in 'discussions' about a government-ordered cull. There's no further public comment on it from Defra or elsewhere in government yet.
The RSPB's position is that they don't currently support a parakeet cull, but they do think the spread of parakeets and impact on other species needs to be carefully tracked.
We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, see our short instructional video on parakeet-charming.
You might like to read
London's Parakeets — the where, what and why (and how to get covered in them)
The Kensington Gardens Parakeets Will Land On Your Hand
The Parakeeting Of London — a new book in search of London's green marauders