The parrots are among us
Most of us associate parrots with pirate characters like Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean film series or with holiday trips to Mexico, Chile or India. But even in Germany, the home of the blackbird, thrush, finch and starling, several species of these exotic animals can be found.
If you go for a walk in Stuttgart’s Schlossgarten or the Cannstatt Kurpark shortly after sunrise in the morning, you will almost certainly witness loud screaming and shouting. Responsible for the morning clamour is a group of colourful exotic birds that have become as much a part of Stuttgart as Maultaschen, the VFB or a certain large car company. A total of sixty yellow-headed amazons are currently at home in the Swabian metropolis. How the pigeon-sized animals with the green plumage and yellow-coloured head came to Germany is disputed. The first Stuttgart parrot is said to have escaped from its owner in 1984, and a second animal is said to have been deliberately abandoned afterwards. Ten years later, the population had already grown to thirty birds. For several years now, about sixty yellow-headed amazons have been living in Stuttgart, forming the largest population outside their original home country of Mexico, where the bird species is increasingly threatened with extinction. The people of Stuttgart and the surrounding area are mighty proud of their successful integration project. For example, the photographer Bianca Hahn runs a Facebook page called “Stuttgarter Amazonen” (Stuttgart Amazons), on which she lovingly and with great accuracy presents current developments in the Swabian parrot world.
The relatively warm climate in summer suits the bird species very well, but the yellow-headed amazons can also be found in Stuttgart in winter, because the species is extremely close to its location and also very faithful in a partnership. Yellow-headed amazons are monogamous and usually have only one partner in life. The bird species has become an attraction for tourists. Bird lovers from all over the world travel to Stuttgart to marvel at these exceptional green creatures.
Cologne’s parrots are also extremely popular with foreign guests and should not be missing from any holiday photo series. For the city’s inhabitants, however, the animals are often a nuisance. Since 1967, the most common parrot species in the world, the collared parakeet, has been found in the cathedral metropolis. The first birds are said to have escaped from a pet shop, others were probably abandoned by private owners. Meanwhile, about two and a half thousand specimens of the species live in the city. During the day, they fly in swarms through the narrow alleys, parks and shopping streets. Towards evening, the population usually meets for several months in the same roosting trees for a communal night’s rest. And this is where the problem begins! Because the forty-centimetre tall animals with the green plumage and red beak have a lot to talk about after an eventful day and make a deafening noise. In addition, they drive the owners of the outdoor restaurants to despair with the large amounts of excrement they defecate. Some of them have already resorted to firecrackers to protect themselves and their customers from the birds’ nuisance. For a time, the city even employed an ornithologist to develop methods to drive the birds away from places where they were perceived as particularly disturbing.
Cologne’s collared parakeets were the first known parrots in Germany. In the meantime, the colourful animals can also be found in cities such as Brühl, Bonn and Düsseldorf. According to estimates, a total of 4500 collared parakeets live in North Rhine-Westphalia and enjoy the mild climate of the Rhineland, which offers them optimal living conditions.
Darlings of the art scene
In 2015, the collared parakeets from Düsseldorf received a very special honour. This year they became part of international art history. The well-known French artist Cyprien Gaillard made them the protagonists of a video installation entitled “KOE”. In the clip, which lasts four minutes and seventeen seconds, the artist follows the animals with his camera in circling movements as they fly through the Hofgarten, Kö-Bogen and Königsallee. A truly hypnotic film experience and a successful exploration of the themes of globalisation, urbanity and nature. As part of the world-renowned Julia Stoschek Collection, the video installation has been shown not only in Düsseldorf and Berlin but also in Sao Paulo, Paris and Basel, among other places, making the Düsseldorf parrots the darlings of the international art scene.
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