Madrid faces invasion of Quaker Parrots, there are more than 20 000 birds in the whole Spain

October 30th, 2016 | by Jan Potucek
Madrid faces invasion of Quaker Parrots, there are more than 20 000 birds in the whole Spain
Invasive species

Spanish government announced that the growing population of the invasive Quaker parrots cannot be tolerated anymore. Today, these birds are found in many city parks and according to the latest estimation made by Madrid subdivision of BirdLife International there are more than 5 000 individuals just in the capital city. In total, over 20 000 Quaker parrots inhabit Spain. Despite the recent ban on breeding of this species in 2012, authorities fail in decreasing of number of the wild birds. Zaragoza is one of a few exceptions.


Zaragoza shot hundreds of parrots

The municipal government of Zaragoza started to solve the issue of invasive Quaker parrots at the moment when the population reached level of 1400 individuals. Their large nest structures were often built on power lines and caused power outage. With their screaming, parrots also disturbed local citizens and negatively affected populations of other native bird species. „At the beginning we tried to destroy eggs in their nests. We simply pierced them with a needle and therefore parents did not notice what happened and did not start with the second clutch,“ said Luis Manso for website, who works at local city hall for the environmental department.

However, this method has not been so successful as many people expected. Therefore, the city hall started with more vigorous action – shooting. This solution was more efficient, obviously and today there are just a few dozens of adult Quaker parrots in Zaragoza. Municipal governments in Madrid, Barcelona or Malaga are now considering the same possibility. One of the biggest issues is, that in these cities, parrots destroy vegetation. „When the birds choose some particular tree, they are able to cause such damage that it will completely go dry,“ said Blas Molina from Spanish subdivision of BirdLife International.


Will Madrid also start shooting?

Spanish ornithologists consider shooting to be a very radical solution. They would prefer destroying of the nests out of the breeding season. „To prevent further growth of Quaker parrots population it is necessary to destroy their nests,“ said Molina. According to Jose Luis Postiga from Malaga University, Quaker parrots are very flexible. They can survive in warm but also very cold climate like in Brussels or Chicago. „To face low temperatures they build nests with thicker walls,“ he explains.

In Malaga, parrots invasion had direct negative effect on populations of native species. „With arrival of these parrots avian diversity has decreased. Birds have to fight for food more than it used to be,“ said Salvador Florido from environmental department in Malaga. At this moment, BirdLife International observes existing colonies of the Quaker Parrot in Madrid. After that, municipal government will know where are the places with largest groups. It is still unclear how the problem is going to be solved. However, ornithologists refused to shoot birds as it is too radical method which might be questioned later. The second option – to destroy nests, is prefered but will not solve this issue completely as the colony can simply build more nests for the next season.


Title photo: (c) Juan Emilio This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


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