HANGING OUT IN THE HAZELNUT TREE – TAKE TWO
About two weeks ago I did a blog about the red squirrels that hang out in the hazelnut trees outside my apartment. This morning I got up early and walked two blocks up to the bakery around the corner to buy a fresh baked roll for breakfast. It was still dark outside, and as I crossed the strip of park that runs through my neighbourhood I saw and heard a large horde of ravens, perched high in the horse chestnut trees, conversing with each other in their loud deep caw caw voices. I like them because they are very intelligent, and they keep the pigeons away.
After breakfast I took a quick walk into the city center to buy a few energy saving LED light bulbs. Upon returning home I was met with an interesting sight. In the hazelnut trees in front of and near my apartment there was a large company of parrots. Now, seeing parrots here in the city is not unusual. They took over some of the city parks years ago. But seeing them in my street was something completely new.
Parrots, you ask? These are Indian ring-necked parrots, descendants of household pets that escaped and who have gone forth and multiplied to such an extent in central Germany over the past 40 years that authorities now consider them an “indigenous” species. They have been spreading across the western Europe and have even reached southern England. Dieter Zingel, head of the Hesse State Ornithology Society in Wiesbaden, states that, “They are definitely on the move. Until a few years ago, the ring-necks were isolated in and around one park in Wiesbaden and their population was no more than about 300. But now they have multiplied and are definitely on the move.”
The Indian ring-necks are normally native to the Asian Sub-Continent. A great number of them were imported to Europe from Sri Lanka in the 1960s. Then the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) severely limited their import. But enough of birds had escaped from captivity to establish sizable populations in the Rhine-Main valley. There the warm summers and the relatively mild winters are ideal for the area’s wine-makers and for the Sri Lankan parrots. Today, at least in Germany, they are anything but an endangered species. And how do they survive? The Indian ringnecks normally eat a variety of seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, blossoms, and nectar. All of these foods are abundant along the Rhine-Main valley. The Parrots are highly intelligent and very adaptive when it comes to living in close contact with humans. In other words, they are here to stay.
Making a tremendous amount of racket, they proceeded to strip the trees of their pods of hazelnuts, tossing the cracked open shells and empty pods to the sidewalk below. They made a grand mess along with a lot of noise. I’m sure that the squirrels won’t appreciate that most of their nuts are now gone, and I know the parrots won’t stick around now that they’ve gobbled most everything up. But it was enjoyable getting to see them close up from my balcony…
A large flock of parrots is called a company, and these were keeping me company in the hazelnut trees outside my balcony this morning.
Eying a pod of hazelnuts, this colourful parrot is inching his way down within beak reach of his breakfast.
Chewing on a hazelnut, the parrot stares back as I preserve the moment for posterity.
All photos taken on Christmas Eve, 2014.
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