Pair of parakeets spotted in Garapan

By Ferdie De La Torre - Saipan Tribune — March 5, 2015

A pair of beautiful rose-ringed parakeets, believed to be escaped pets, have been seen lately roosting on trees along the Beach Road pathway in Garapan, raising concerns from the CNMI Division of Fish & Wildlife that these non-native birds may reproduce. Two rose-ringed parakeets are seen perched on a flame tree along the Beach Road pathway in front of the JP Center in Garapan last Sunday. The CNMI Division of Fish & Wildlife is concerned that these non-native parrots may reproduce on the island. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Two rose-ringed parakeets are seen perched on a flame tree along the Beach Road pathway in front of the JP Center in Garapan last Sunday. The CNMI Division of Fish & Wildlife is concerned that these non-native parrots may reproduce on the island. (Ferdie de la Torre)

DFW conservation planner Jill Liske-Clark said yesterday they would appreciate the public's help in providing information about the owner of the two rose-ringed parakeets or in capturing the birds.

"Regretfully, if these cannot be captured very soon, they must be removed by whatever means, as we cannot afford the risk that they will reproduce," Liske-Clark said.

Parakeets are native to West Africa and southern Asia. They are a species of parrot.

Liske-Clark pointed out that preventing the introduction of new, non-native species to the Commonwealth is of vital environmental and economic importance.

Saipan Tribune spotted and took photos of the two birds perched on the branches of a flame tree along the pathway across JP Center in Garapan on Sunday before noon and late afternoon.

Saipan Tribune showed the photos to DFW on Monday.

Liske-Clark said that based on the photos, she can see that it is a male and female pair. She said the male has a ring around its neck, while the female doesn't have one.

"They likely are escaped pets, which is how they have become introduced in many parts of the world outside their native range," she said.

Rose-ringed parakeets are herbivores, eating fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and grains. They are large birds and measure up to 16 inches, including the tail.

Liske-Clark said that within their native and introduced range, they can form large flocks and can be serious agricultural pests, eating mango, guava, and other crops.

She said DFW has concerns that if this situation is not addressed, these birds could establish a wild population on the island, potentially harming native wildlife and agriculture.

"Although we can't know for certain what the impact of a wild parakeet population on Saipan would be, we have many examples of the devastating environmental and economic impacts of invasive species in the Mariana Islands," Liske-Clark said.

She cited the invasive brown tree snake, which drove most of Guam's native birds to extinction.

Liske-Clark noted that currently Guam is fighting an invasion of coconut rhinoceros beetle that may ultimately kill all of the island's coconut palms.

As to the suggestion of allowing these beautiful parakeets to breed on the island and just control their population, Liske-Clark said that's how invasive species often end up in new areas, because people bring them in for the reason that they are beautiful.

"Population control of an established population is expensive because you have to do it forever, and sometimes that isn't even feasible," she said.

Liske-Clark reminded the public that any importation of exotic animals requires a valid permit from the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.