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Ring-Necked Parakeets and their Impact on Bat Populations

15 Oct 2018

Last week, I watched a company of ring-necked parakeets feeding in a large beech tree in the grounds of the School of Veterinary Medicine, which is located in the northern suburbs of Glasgow. On one hand, it was genuinely wonderful to see these colourful, rambunctious and relatively uncommon birds in such an unfamiliar setting. However, wonder quickly faded to worry, as I started to think about how this family of parakeets could affect the park’s biodiversity. 

 

The reason for my unease was due to a series of articles I read earlier in the year about the direct affect this very same species of bird is having on a population of bats in Seville, Spain. The greater noctule is one of Europe’s rarest species of bat and is listed as “vulnerable and declining” on the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species. María Luisa Park, located in the centre of Seville, supports one of the largest breeding populations of this bat species in Europe and therefore represents a breeding population of international importance. 

 

Research lead by Dailos Hernández-Brito from the Estación Biológica de Doñana has recorded the park’s population of parakeets displacing the greater noctule bats through direct competition for nesting holes. Furthermore, what is all the more concerning is that the birds are physically attacking and in many instances killing the greater noctule bats, who’s battered corpses have been recovered as part of the on-going research. 

 

Given the plight of Seville’s greater noctule bat population, I can’t help but worry, given the high proportion of mature woodland within the grounds of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine, whether the family of parakeets I observed last week have the capacity to affect the schools local population of bats, in particular, those species that favour tree roosts, such as the British noctule bat, which has a historical presence in this part of the city.

 

Information Source: Royal Society of Open Science

Image Credit: Sachin Kadam (Pixabay) / KatPaws (iStock)

 

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