Amsterdam – It’s a Jungle Out There

While the climate in Amsterdam leaves a lot to be desired, one wouldn’t think this if they look up in the trees. I first noticed parakeets in my back garden three months into my expat life here. At first glance they look like green parrots, but after further research, I’ve learned that they are actually a species of parrots – parakeets, or to be specific, rose-ringed parakeets.

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Not knowing at the time that there are about 10,000 parakeets, maybe more, living in the Dam, at first sight I thought someone must have left their bird cage open or there was an escape from the Artis Zoo. It never crossed my mind that there were actually hoards of tropical parakeets nesting in this most undesirable climate of The Netherlands. Most people think they only reside in the famous Vondelpark, which is about a 10 minute walk from my flat, but actually they are everywhere, spreading their colorful wings as they branch further afield to multiply.

While no one is exactly sure how they arrived, they have been here over 40 years and seem to be doing better than fine. Frisky and affectionate green birds, they are multiplying like rabbits. In October there were two parakeets living in my garden, today there are four. Two adults and two younger parakeets. That didn’t take long.

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Parakeets live between 15 and 20 years. By now, they have no idea there is a much warmer and friendlier climate where their relatives reside and have adapted to the chilly, grey, rainy, hailing, windy climate of Holland.

At first I didn’t notice they’d made their home in the hole of our tree trunk. Now that it’s Spring, I wake serenaded every morning to their loud singing and most recently see them feasting on the red berries on the branches. Our parakeets, which we have affectionately named Bonnie and Clyde (at least the big ones), since we are pretty sure they hijacked their home from some woodpeckers, hang out most of the day on the branches and retreat into their home as soon as it gets dark. They don’t seem to be bothered by our dogs, but when a loudly landing plane flies overhead on its way to Schipol, just 6 miles from here, they take off into the air.

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Our parakeets also have loads of other parakeet friends who fly by, land and try to inch their way into that hole in the tree – to no avail, as Bonnie or Clyde is usually guarding the entrance. Who knew I would become a birder living here? I love all animals, domesticated and wild, but I have never really warmed up to birds. Bonnie and Clyde and their offspring are growing on me. They are adding some color to this grey urban jungle.

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