Parakeets dwelling in Istanbul disrupt natural balance
Ring-necked parakeets fly over Turkey’s different regions each year, with their population on a rise.
These outgoing and independent Afro-Asian parakeets adorn trees in parks and recreational areas mainly in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, yet it is possible to see them in more than 20 cities around Turkey.
However, the tropical parakeets, which were only seen in Istanbul’s parks until a while ago, now began to form large colonies in almost every district of the metropolis.
It is possible to spot them during a walk along Gülhane Park in Sultanahmet or Yıldız Park in Beşiktaş where they fly over the sky, coloring the branches.
Giving information about the parakeets in flocks in the skies of Istanbul, experts are worried about the increase in the number of this species considered invasive.
Noting that the fauna of the city is at risk of deterioration due to invading parakeets, biologist Kerem Boyla stated that the population of the parakeet species has almost exploded.
Boyla underlined that the story of parakeets in Istanbul started with a tragic traffic accident in 1996.
A pickup truck carrying parakeets was overturned on the TEM highway near Beykoz 24 years ago, and hundreds of parakeets flew away from the cages that collapsed after the accident.
Another factor, according to Boyla, is that the birds brought to the country illegally and caught at customs are usually released into nature.
“We estimate that the number of this invasive species in Istanbul, which was mentioned in hundreds until three-five years ago, exceeded 6,000,” Boyla said.
“Ring-necked parakeets have become part of Istanbul, but this invasive species has now begun to disrupt the balance of the urban fauna by settling in the nests of animals such as crows, bats and squirrels,” he added.
He added that wrong tree pruning, food residues from parks and gardens and dropping food for street animals haphazardly led to a widening of parrots’ living space.
Biologist Esra Per from Gazi University also stated that a parakeet group registered near Fenerbahçe neighborhood is the most crowded flock ever observed in Turkey.
“We estimate that there are over 10,000 parakeets across the country. More than half of this figure is in Istanbul. İzmir is the second city where parakeets are most observed,” Per noted.
“Citizens report that green parrots are now fighting bats, competing with squirrels and crows for nesting,” she noted, referring to the fact that it is ecologically important that competition between species does not come to a situation that will disturb the natural balance.
Afro-Asian parakeets are also seen in European countries but mainly originate from an area ranging from Africa to southeast Asia and the islands of the Indian Ocean.