Parakeets Are Taking Over Israel’s Palm Trees
December 29, 2016
New Scientist — There just aren’t enough palm tree homes to go around.
Dr. Reuven Yosef, a bird researcher at BGU’s Eilat Campus, has been following densities of hoopoes — a tree-nesting bird indigenous to Israel — and has found their numbers have been affected by an invasion of parakeets.
In four palm tree groves — or palmeries — that Dr. Yosef and his team studied, two that were invaded by parakeets in 2000 and 2006 showed a significant decline in hoopoe population density. By contrast, in the two palmeries without parakeets the hoopoe density remained unchanged.
These invasive parakeets usually nest in existing tree cavities, but the researchers observed them digging new cavities, which suggests a lack of nesting sites.
“Parakeets start breeding earlier in the season than hoopoes do, and may use up all nesting sites before the hoopoes can get to them,” the researchers say.
The results add to growing evidence of competition for suitable nesting cavities between parakeets and native birds. They may even be affecting bats.