Missing birds ‘pose pest risk’

Midwest Times

Geraldton residents are being urged to keep an eye out for 16 escaped Indian ringneck parakeets, amid fears the birds could become a major pest in the wild.

Twenty of the foreign birds escaped from a backyard aviary in Waggrakine last week, with only four located since.

One was found almost 10 kilometres away in Meru.

Department of Primary Industries and regional development manager Richard Watkins said he was deeply concerned the species could potentially establish a breeding population.

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He said the Indian ringneck parakeet was not native to Australia but was well suited to the environment and posed a considerable risk of becoming established.

“Indian ringneck parakeets pose a significant threat to agriculture, with the potential to damage a range of crops including cereals, oilseeds and horticulture as well as stored grains,” Mr Watkins said.

He also expressed concerns the birds might compete with native species for nest hollows and food.

“With the support of the local community we hope to locate and remove the escaped birds as soon as possible,” he said.

The species is described as bright green and with a red beak and long tail, and about 40cm in length from body to tail.

Some of escaped birds were were also blue, yellow, grey and olive.

Male birds are described as having a narrow black and pink collar, distinguishing it from female and immature birds.

The Indian ringneck has a distinctive shrill, screeching “kee-ak” call different to native parrots.

Any suspected sightings of the birds must be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on free call 1800 084 881.

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