research shows the largest North American population of naturalized
Rose-ringed Parakeets, Psittacula
krameri, lives in Bakersfield, California. This population achieved its size through reproductive recruitment
with supplemental releases of captive individuals since the
initial pioneers in 1977. In August 2001, myself,
Deborah Jackson, and Dianna Morales counted 715 individuals, but the number declined
thereafter as first year bird mortality is
relatively high. We estimate the number of wild individuals is currently stable at
slightly more than 500 individuals
and will grow again after nesting season 2002. When we first began this research in
1998, the greatest count was 187 individuals. (Ed. note - 2012 update:
the number of parakeets at its greatest count at the main roost site (there are
now several throughout Bakersfield) was over 1800 in December 2011. I would
estimate the number of individual birds to be well over 3000 in the Greater
Bakersfield area as they are now found throughout the town wherever mature trees
Our research on worldwide naturalized distributions of P.
krameri shows extensive but local populations. The species is non-migratory
but has daily foraging migration through their territory. Most foraging flocks vary in size
depending on season. All birds utilize common nocturnal roosts. This is a common
characteristic of psittacids. Significant populations of this species exist
locally around London, UK (2000-3000) and Brussels, Belgium (3000+). The species
is widespread but local throughout Europe, and Asia. No colonization has been
reported in Australia, Antarctica, or South America. Published journal
articles discuss insignificant populations in the Virgin Islands and another in
Venezuela. These sightings are significant for understanding pioneering flocks.
North American colonizations are widespread but some are
poorly documented. The most populated area beyond Bakersfield is in Naples
Florida, where recent communication with Susan Epps reveals a population of
+-100 individuals. Several communities in Florida report smaller populations.
Other small naturalized populations in the United States are found in Metarie,
LA, San Antonio, TX, Honolulu, HI, and Malibu, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Anaheim,
and Pasadena; CA.
Worldwide, all colonizing flocks are initially the product of deliberate
or accidental releases of breeding pairs. As highly vocal and communal species,
I predict that naturalizing psittacids take very little time finding others of
their own species within any given area once released to the wild. One
additional factor supporting this observation is the similar habitat niche
needed for most parrot species.
first observed this species in 1987 at Hart Park in northeast Bakersfield.
Although area birders and residents have been aware of this flock for many
years, there has been no effort to record or report this population. This is not
uncommon as exotic species are not generally treated as participating members of
an ecological community until well after their initial introduction. This
research project began a result of a discussion, in September 1998, on the
status of introduced psittacids in California with Kimball L. Garrett,
Ornithology Collections Manager, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Four subspecies are known:. P.
k. borealis is native to India (north of latitude 20°N), west Pakistan,
Nepal, and central Burma, P. k. krameri is native to Africa - Guinea,
Senegal, southern Mauritania, western Uganda, and southern Sudan, P. k.
parvirostris is native to northwest Somalia, northern Ethiopia, and Sudan,
and P. k. manillensis is native to India (south of latitude 20°N),
Ceylon, and the island of Rameswaram (Forshaw, 1978.)
This species is unmistakable with
light green plumage, long tail, and raucous, repetitive "kee ep" call.
The average length is 16 inches. Adult males have the "rose-ring". The
chin of the adult male is black with layers of black, turquoise, and rose on a
collar that thins below the auriculars. The rose-ring continues to the nape of
the neck. The nape on the male has a turquoise blue wash over the light green
base feathers. It takes between 18-32 months for the males to develop the
rose-ring. Juveniles and females lack neck and chin markings. The adult female
has a faint emerald green collar that is difficult to discern in the field.
The tail is long and thin with a blue central tail feather. The outer tail
feathers are medium green washed with blue. The tail of females and juveniles is
slightly shorter than that of the male. The underside of the tail and
wings are canary yellow.
Bakersfield is a suburban/rural
city extending 111 square miles, 492 ft. above sea level in the Southern San
Joaquin Valley of California. Greater Bakersfield occupies an area of 224 sq.
miles. The climate of the southern San Joaquin Valley is described as inland
Mediterranean-type with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Bakersfield lies
just north of latitude 35° 20' N. The now ephemeral Kern River flows through
the northern sector of the city with unincorporated urban communities occupying
much of the land north of the river.
Bakersfield and the surrounding
communities are home to many naturalized species of animals. The original
landscape has been altered with the accidental and deliberate introduction of
animals, plants, and insects. The area was originally a boggy delta for the
largest freshwater marsh and lake system west of the Mississippi River. It was
surrounded by upland scrub habitat.
Naturalized wildlife include: Bullfrog
(Lithobates (Rana) catesbeiana), Virginia
Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), Fox
Squirrel (Sciurus niger), House Mouse (Mus musculus), Black Rat (Rattus rattus), Red Fox (Vulpes
vulpes), Feral Cat (Felis catus), Wild Pig (Sus scrofa),
Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), Rock Pigeon (Columba
Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), European
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), and House
Sparrow (Passer domesticus). (These underlined
lead to another of my research projects - Introduced Species of Kern County: a
Other individual members of the parrot family observed in Bakersfield but not
reproducing include: Budgerigar, Red-crowned Parrot, Meyer's Parrot, Senegal
Parrot, Peach-faced Parakeet and Mitred Parakeet.
The current population in Bakersfield appears to have began
as a result of the loss of the Happy Bird Aviary roof. A hurricane force
windstorm occurred on December 20, 1977 in the southern San Joaquin Valley, destroying the aviary,
and leading to
the release of multiple species of cage-bred birds. Two breeding pair of
Rose-ringed Parakeets were among the birds lost by the owner. I have documented
an average of one escape from pet and/or aviary owners each year since 1985
(some years no birds were recorded while some years up to six were reported to
have escaped). Rose-ringed Parakeets are
long-lived averaging 20 year life-spans. If the population did not grow
year, then the species could not be determined to be naturalized. I have
observed successful fledging each year since beginning my research and
documented an increase, leading to the conclusion that the population is
growing mainly due to reproductive recruitment (wild hatching).
Anecdotal reports of this species living within the wild go
back to the early 20th century. No specimens or ornithological field
investigation show any data backing up these reports. I believe some of these
reports may actually be different species such as Budgerigars or Monk Parakeets. Monk Parakeets were deemed to
great a threat to agriculture and were banned from California aviculture in the late
The common Rose-ringed Parakeet nocturnal roost site is found
at the corner of Union and California Avenues. The parakeets utilize the Mexican
Fan Palms exclusively for night roosting. Occupying the roost only at night, the
birds arrive each evening between 1/2 to 1 hour before sunset and leave no later
than 1 hour after sunrise each morning. During nesting season the nocturnal
roost is utilized only by unpaired individuals and 2nd year juveniles.
Nests are distributed widely but locally throughout the city.
Nesting flocks appear to be no greater than 60 individuals. There are nesting
flocks in Beale, Hart, Jastro Parks, along the Kern River, in Alta Vista/La
Cresta, and Casa Loma. The birds are exclusively cavity nesters. They must have
access to mature trees with cavities excavated by other species. They do expand
the cavity but do not place any nesting material besides the wood chips that may
already be in the cavity. This species is reported to lay up to 5 eggs but I
have seen no more than two nestlings at any site. I first documented nesting on
May 18, 1999. See Parrot Photos for a picture of
confirms that Rose-ringed Parakeets have successfully naturalized the
Bakersfield area and they are the largest known population in North
If you have information on current evening roosts, nesting activity, foraging
activity, or damage these birds do, please E-mail.
Any historical information or behavioral information you can provide is really
appreciated. I will confirm all sighting information as time allows.