December 19, 2018 / 7:43 AM

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Is Jimi Hendrix to Blame for London's Feral Parakeets Problem?

 

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Feral parakeets are taking over London, England, and one theory on the origin of these birds first being introduced in the United Kingdom's big city points the blame at rock n' roll legend Jimi Hendrix. While the birds are nice to look at, there are just too many of them, according to residents, and some have traced the birds back to Hendrix, who lived in London in the 1960s.

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Concern for London and the UK's ecosystem has heightened recently, because the numbers of these parakeets have been soaring to dangerous levels. Speaking to CBC.ca, one London resident, 55-year-old Keith Betton, explained the problems plaguing the city.

"I don't particularly wish to have non-native species in Britain," he said. "If I could choose to never have them arrive, that would be my choice, but they are here."

So, where did they come from? According to speculation, Hendrix allegedly set a couple of parakeets loose in London in the 1960s.

"The first recorded parakeet seen in the wild was in 1855, so there had been escapes from collections before then. Typically for a population to establish there had to be multiple escapes. It's unlikely that just a pair, or a couple of pairs of birds, would be able to establish a breeding population," Conservation Projects Officer for the RSPB, Dr. Richard Black told GQ Magazine. "Jimi Hendrix was supposed to have released the birds in the Sixties on Carnaby Street, and the first recorded breeding success was in Kent, in about 1969. They weren't recorded breeding in London until about 1973, but they are quite long-lived birds and they don't start breeding typically until their third year."

While it's fun to think that Hendrix had such a unique impact outside of music in London, there are other theories. For instance, some consider the bombing of the London Zoo during World War II could've started the spread, but Dr. Black's statistics above make that seem unlikely.

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