Flock of Houdini birds hits city

A flock of ring-necked parakeets has been seen (Picture from RSPB (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds)

An aggressive parrot, known as the Houdini of the captive bird world, has caused concern after a flock was reported flying over Edinburgh.

Several sightings of a group, as well as individual ring-necked parakeets, are worrying experts who fear they will push out the city's native birds.

The Indian Himalayan species, which has been escaping from city aviaries, can easily survive freezing temperatures.

The foot-long bird, which lives in tree holes, could displace a native owl.

As it is the first time the species has been seen in a group in the city, the news has caused concern among experts who say this could be a sign the birds are looking for a place to roost and produce young.

David Kelly, the Lothian recorder for the Scottish Ornithology Club, said he had received reports of a flock at Drylaw as well as individuals being sighted at Calton Hill, Duddingston and Cramond.

"The worry we have is for our native species which nest in holes, such as starlings, nuthatches, woodpeckers, great tits, blue tits and even owls.

"They are big strong birds which don't belong in the wild here so it is of great concern that they are being seen in Edinburgh.

"If they do increase in numbers by breeding then they could become a problem to commercial fruit growers in the area as they are vegetarian.

Report sightings

"Aviaries containing these birds need to be kept very secure because they chew things and are very intelligent. They are known as the Houdini's of the bird world.

"They will also gather food from gardens so if anyone sees one I would urge them to report it."

Birders keep ring-necked parakeets to breed for shows as they are brightly coloured.

They are large, long-tailed and green with red beaks and pink and black rings around their face and necks.

They have already become a problem in Surrey and Kent.