London's Parakeets: How Far Have They Spread? We've Mapped Them

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 17 months ago

Last Updated 27 January 2023

London's Parakeets: How Far Have They Spread? We've Mapped Them
Seen one of these chaps outside London? Photo: Matt Brown

It's no secret that London is home to a population of wild parakeets.

Entire books have been written about them, and people flock to the Royal Parks to get up close (though this article refers to Hyde Park, we've seen similar scenes in St James's Park on multiple occasions).

The bright green birds' origins are hotly-debated, their numbers are unknown (though it's in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands), and their future is uncertain. Many people loathe them, citing the danger parakeets pose to native species and fruit crops. But for the time being, they're here to stay — and not only that, they're spreading out. They've been spotted in all London boroughs, though they seem to have a preference for the south of the capital, with hundreds descending on Grove Park in January 2022.

a green parakeet flies towards an open hand
Parakeets have been spotted beyond the boundaries of Greater London. Photo: Matt Brown

Parakeets also venture beyond the capital. We first spotted them in Sevenoaks in Kent in around 2018, but in lockdown in May 2020 we saw them even further out, in fields close to Tonbridge. We've also spotted them in Borehamwood to the north-west of the capital, and comments on our 2017 article suggest sightings in Windsor and Staines. Which got us thinking — exactly how far out have these birds reached? Have they dipped their wings in Essex, Surrey, Hertfordshire?

So in early 2022, we asked you where you've seen these green birds — and you replied in your thousands. On Facebook, on Twitter, and in the comments at the bottom of this article, you told us the locations where you've seen parakeets. Now, we've mapped the results:

As you can see, they tend to centre around the suburbs of London, and the areas immediately outside of Greater London. Though no-one knows exactly where (or how) the first wild parakeets came about, they tend to be thought of as the 'London parakeets' due to their prevalence here in the capital, and this map certainly seems to support that.

Bordering London, locations in the county of Hertfordshire were mentioned many times. Buckinghamshire and Berkshire too, are replete with parakeets. Surrey has a smattering, but we were surprised how few there were in Sussex, Kent and Essex — and it's interesting to note their preference for coastal areas.

Of course, it could be that there are hundreds of them in the countryside areas of these counties, but with fewer people around to spot them than in towns and cities, they're rarely seen.

In some areas, it seems, you can't move for parakeets. Photo: Matt Brown (in central London)

Plymouth, Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow were all mentioned multiple times too, which makes us suspect that separate populations have been established in these areas — either splinter groups of the London parakeets, or wild populations that came about completely separately.

We had a few international responses, reporting sightings in locations such as Athens, Amsterdam, Brussels and California, but we suspect these are completely separate populations, so have kept the map to UK sightings only.

A few things to note:

  • Locations aren't entirely accurate — some people gave precise street and postcode details, while others just mentioned a town or general area. Points have been mapped accordingly. We are not scientists, merely nosy Londoners.
  • Several locations were mentioned multiple times by different people, but have only been included once.
  • Apologies if we missed your contribution — with literally thousands of comments to read through, we fear we may have missed the odd one, though we did our best.

Mapping these feathered lads and lasses could become a full-time job if we let it, so we won't be adding to the map again for now. But if you've spotted the parakeets somewhere we haven't mentioned, you can flock to the comments at the bottom of this article to share your sighting.