Kensington Gardens Has Parakeets That Will Land On Your Hand

By M@ Last edited 16 months ago
Kensington Gardens Has Parakeets That Will Land On Your Hand

Want to see London's wild parakeets up close? There's a place in Kensington Gardens where the colourful blighters will land on your hand, so long as they think you have food.

Wild parakeets are now one of the commonest birds in London. These screeching, eye-catching birds have been clocked in all 32 boroughs, and even the Square Mile. They are alluringly photogenic, but move fast and are usually shy of humans. So it's gratifying to find a place where they're tame enough to hold in your hand.

Head along the east bank of the Long Water (what most of us call the Serpentine, though that's officially only the stretch that runs through Hyde Park). About half-way down, just before Henry Moore's Arch, you might spot a bird feeder in the bushes.

Arrow marks the spot.

The site seems particularly attractive to both squirrels and parakeets. Both were keen for the crumbs offered by a passing visitor. Neither were shy of scaling arms or legs in search of a treat. The parakeets were just as lively on a second visit a few days later.

We've been keeping an eye on the birds for years, but have never seen them act quite so tame. No doubt there are other locations around town with friendly parakeets, and we'd welcome any tips in the comments.

Two in the bush.

The birds are obviously not indigenous to Britain, but nobody really knows how they got here. Some say they escaped a film set, or were released in the Great Storm of 1987. Rumours that Jimi Hendrix set free a breeding pair on Carnaby Street as part of a swinging 60s stunt are untrue — at least according to his girlfriend of the time, Kathy Etchingham.

Wherever they come from, the parakeets are a familiar sight (and sound) in London's skies. Now you can hold them in your hand.

Last Updated 27 February 2017




I want the Jimi Hendrix story to be true even if it's not
That's allowed in 2017


Regarding the Parakeets in London. I believe they are Indian Ring Necks. The boys get a ring around their neck and the females don't. They have a very distinctive call / screech. As a happy house pet they tend not to screech.. They are very common house pets in many countries, can learn to talk extremely well and are being bred in many different colours.

Feral Parakeet

I have been watching the Birds for a while in and around Battersea, my observations are recorded at One thing i have noticed is that the birds do appear more acclimatised to humans in Central London. I have not yet seen the Birds in Battersea eat from a hand but i have seen them get within a couple of feet of humans.

Jo Brodie

I finally experienced lots of parakeets landing on me today and I enjoyed it very much so thank you for bringing it to my attention. I made a note of where I was using an Ordnance Survey map [51.5074 lat, -0.1739 long] and here is my report ;-)

The people holding their hands out flat (slightly curved) with an apple or seeds in seemed to have most luck, also those who were making some noise. Shortly after I'd been standing for 15 mins with not much going on a guy appeared and held out his hands, with seeds on, and made some whistling noises and seconds later two birds appeared. Possibly they recognised him but he was there for all the time I was (about an hour and a half) and absolutely trounced my feeble interactions with the birds. I'd picked up a pre-cut apple with peanut butter dip (surprisingly the parakeets seemed to dislike the peanut butter) from M&S and just held out apple segments for them, which they took. The first one to land on me actually took the bit of apple out of my hand and balanced itself on one leg using the other to grip the apple and eat it - fascinating to watch.

They have quite sharp claws and apples aren't all that easy to eat with beaks so I found that they were scratching my hand a bit while they tried to get some purchase on the slice. With most of them I gave up after a while and just let them fly off with the slice. One of these birds (I assume) returned for another slice and let out an annoyed squawk when I didn't release the slice quickly enough. Next time I might take a pair of gloves! I had some 'antiseptic' wipes to clean the scratch in the hope of it not getting infected! I think I'll live.

I saw a few people standing under trees in the shade - not always the best place to stand as the pigeons like to roost above you and ... well, check the ground before you pick a place to position yourself! People who were very close to the trees found that parakeets would crawl down the branches and peck at the food while still attached to the tree. If you want them to land on you you probably need to be a bit further from the tree so that they can see you and take flight.

If you haven't brought anything just keep an eye on the ground anyway as plenty of people will drop half apples after they've had a few birds land on them. I think I'd go for the half apple option next time, rather than gripping segments in my fingers and fighting the birds for them ;)

Hadn't expected it to be so packed full of tourists doing the same thing!