An urban legend which claimed that Jimi Hendrix was to blame for the arrival of wild parakeets in Britain has been finally debunked.
It was previously claimed that the late rock icon released the first pair of parakeets, called Adam and Eve, as a symbol of peace while stoned in London’s Carnaby Street in 1968.
A rival theory claimed that George Michael was to blame, after burglars broke into the late singer’s Hampstead home in the 1990s and raided his secret aviary. According to the tall tale, the singer was apparently wary of police involvement and failed to report the crime.
But a new study, published today in the Journal of Zoology, confirms that the birds were sighted in Britain as far back as 1855, when one parakeet was spotted in Norfolk.
Experts now believe that the parakeet population may have risen after the birds escaped from damaged bird houses during Britain’s Great Storm of 1987.
They also claim that many parakeets kept as pets were released during an outbreak of “parrot fever” in 1929, 1930 and 1952, with the public urged by newspapers to keep away from the “dangerous birds”.
According to experts at Goldsmiths University, pet owners would have set their pets free from a window after considering it to be more humane than having the exotic birds destroyed.
Despite being native to Asia, ring-necked parakeets can now be seen in neighbourhoods across the UK, as well as becoming a common sight in London’s parks.
Dr Steven Le Comber, who headed up the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: “The fun legends relating to the origins of the UK’s parakeets are probably not going to go away any time soon.
“Our research only found evidence to support the belief of most ornithologists – the spread of parakeets in the UK is likely a consequence of repeated releases and introductions, and nothing to do with publicity stunts by musicians or movie stars.”
Another popular theory claimed that the birds escaped from the set of The African Queen, the 1951 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.