The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has called on Geraldton residents and birdwatchers to help locate 16 escaped Indian ringneck parakeets which could prove a major pest in the wild.
A total of 20 birds escaped from a backyard aviary in the Waggrakine area last week. Three birds were recaptured after returning to the cage and a fourth bird was captured nearly 10 kilometres away in Meru.
Department biosecurity manager Richard Watkins said it was vital to get as many people involved to look out for and report the remaining birds to ensure they don’t establish a breeding population.
Mr Watkins said the Indian ringneck parakeet was not native to Australia, but could be well suited to the environment and posed a high risk of establishing here.
He said the department was notified about the escaped birds after the incident was posted on social media.
“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,” he said. “This species may also 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.”
Mr Watkins said the incident highlighted the importance of keeping pet birds secure, particularly non-native species.
This species is a declared pest in Western Australia and all escaped birds found in the wild are immediately removed. Indian ringnecks must be kept under secure conditions indicated by a permit from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
The most common Indian ringneck is bright green with a red-beak and long tail, about 40 cm in length (body and tail). Some of the escaped birds were also blue, yellow, grey and olive. Male birds have a narrow black and pink collar which is absent from female and immature birds.
Indian ringnecks are also very vocal with a variety of distinctive screeching calls. They can be identified by their typical shrill kee-ak call which is unlike that of any native parrot.
Sightings of this species or other unusual birds or animals should be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.
For further information about identifying this species click here.
Media contacts: Lisa Bertram/Megan Broad, media liaison
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