Barcelona parakeets

Parakeets in the barrio By Lucy BrzoskaƂ

No one pays the ubiquitous Monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) much attention any more in Barcelona, unless they’re unlucky to have a raucous communal nest near their window. Once considered exotic, they’re now just another noisy element of city life. The Mitred parakeets (Aratinga mitrata) , on the other hand, still turn heads. Every Christmas, in the busy San Antonio neighbourhood, shoppers look up in surprise as squadrons of up to 40 of these large green and red birds descend into the streets. They’re attracted by the round black seeds of the Celtis australis (European nettle trees, almez), plentiful in this area and more resistant to pollution than the other Barcelona staple, the plane tree. This year’s seed crop is particularly plentiful. The parakeets settle in the trees and work along the branches, stripping them methodically. From below, you hear an incessant cracking as they open up the seeds to get at the kernels and litter the pavements and parked cars with husks. They’re handsome birds, deep green with red markings on the head, and larger than the Monk parakeet. While feeding they keep up a subdued squawking, which rises to a crescendo when on a signal every member of the group takes off, instantly falling into formation. In a few seconds they’re gone, the cacophony fading away. When they regroup, they generally head in the direction of Park Ciudadella, so I suspect that’s their base. Their annual visits to the neighbourhood give the impression that their city population is stable, unlike the more invasive Monk parakeet. By Lucy Brzoska. See also Natural History of Barcelona + Blue-fronted Amazon in Barcelona