#1
7 January 2006

CHIRP THRILL

Rare birds spotted in British gardens

By Greig Box

EXOTIC species of birds are causing a flap by turning up in British gardens.

A white-throated sparrow from North America, Himalayan pheasant and a sunbird from south east Asia were all reported last year. But the star was a beautiful hoopoe, with its pink plumage, pronounced crest and long curved bill.

It arrived in an Oxfordshire garden instead of mainland Europe in a spring migration from Africa.

The white-throated sparrow flew into Swanland (of course), East Yorks - more than 3,000 miles from its usual home in Canada and the east coast of the US.

Eagle owls, not native to Britain, caused a stir when they were spotted in Edinburgh and Derby.

Escaped pairs bred in northern England in the 80s and 90s - but they kill other owls and many ornithologists believe they should go back to captivity.

Tragopan pheasants from the Himalayas, sunbirds and African weaverbirds were also seen having escaped from wildlife parks, zoos or private collections. Dr Martin Fowlie, of the British Trust for Ornithology said: "We have monitored the weird and wonderful bird life of gardens for 10 years."

"Ring-necked parakeets are established in south east England but another 20 species of parrot have been recorded. It is important we know where populations establish. We need people's help to record these birds."


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