Wild Parakeets in Tokyo ワカケホンセイインコ

This morning it was my great pleasure to watch three ring-necked parakeets feeding on a tree outside my window. I’ve been enjoying these wild parakeets since 2009 when I wrote a column about them in The Japan Times.

As I explained in that article, these birds are not native to Japan; they’re descendents of birds imported as pets that went feral and have formed a very large colony here in Tokyo. In Japanese they’re called wakake honsei inko ワカケホンセイインコ. Their scientific name is Psittacula krameri manillensis.

The bird in this photo is a male and he’s eating the fruit off the tree. He had two lady friends with him but they declined to get in the photo. I often hear their cheerful calls — these are very noisy birds — but it’s harder to catch them feeding within camera range.

I just sent this photo off to my contact at the Japanese Society for Preservation of Birds 日本鳥類保護連盟, who collects data on sightings. He specifically asked for observations on their feeding habits because it isn’t known to what extent they’re competing with native species for food. This spring, I reported seeing my neighborhood parakeets eating leaf buds off a zelcova (keyaki) tree. They’re also known to be fond of cherry blossoms; in spring, they hit all of Tokyo’s best sakura spots.

Update July 2: I heard back from my contact at JSPB, Mr. Fujii. Judging from my photo, he thinks the tree is a sawara サワラ Chamaecyparis pisifera, which is called “false cypress” in English. He said he knew ring-necked parakeets sometimes fed on sugi 杉 trees (Cryptomeria japonica, or “Japanese cypress”) but this is the first he’s heard of them feeding on sawara trees.

This entry was posted in Adventures in Columning, Life in Japan, What the Heck is That? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wild Parakeets in Tokyo ワカケホンセイインコ

  1. Barbara Bayer says:

    Alice,

    I saw seven of these this morning up near Higashi Nagasaki Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line. They were beautiful, up high, so I couldn’t get a real good look, but I could see that they were a beautiful pale green with long tails and moved like parrots on the antenna they were sitting on. I searched around and found your blog entry. Thanks! Now I can identify them!

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