Saturday’s Featured Organism: Psittacula krameri

Psittacula krameri

I can't post this under the "Face to face" imprint because I'm a fuckwit and couldn't take any photo of the parakeets I saw, so here's a "Friday's Featured Organism" article and a stock photo from Google Images. Enjoy.

I’m back home, but this organism is still relevant to my short but sweet roman trip. Wait, what? A parrot like Psittacula krameri in an italian city like Rome? Fuck yes. Ring-necked Parakeets escaped or freed from captivity (they’re popular pets, after all) have been relatively common in many big european cities with warm climate for years now. I had seen them in Barcelona some years ago, so I read about them and discovered that they were in Rome too. However, I had started to think that the roman population was starting to die out, since I frequently visit Rome and I had never seen them. Until the other day, when I discovered a huge colony in a beautiful garden near the Appian way. There were dozens and dozens of beautiful emerald-green parrots flying around, many of them carrying twigs to help building the many enormous colonial nests on the pines nearby. The birds, and the fact that the park was so green and full of palm trees gave the impression of being somewhere in the garden of a powerful and ancient asian king.

While it’s an alien species (and alien species in general are one of the biggest danger to global ecosystems) I don’t think that the Ring-necked Parakeet causes any trouble to local biodiversity, especially since, at least here in Europe, it’s confined to big cities, as far as I know. So I, for one, welcome our new parakeet overlords.

Face to face: Marmota marmota

Marmota marmota

Kings of the hill. Well, mountain, actually.

Happy New Year! Oh wait, it’s too late. Here, take this couple of Alpine marmots (Marmota marmota) photographed by my father a few years ago in the Friulan Dolomites Natural Park, as a gift for you, for no specific reason. I’ve recently read that in the Friulan Dolomites marmots are not indigenous, but were introduced, along with mouflons and ibexes. Now, I can understand introducing mouflons and ibexes, since they can be hunted for food and sport, but… why the heck marmots? Is it because people expects them to be part of the alpine environment and thus local people didn’t want to disappoint tourists? Is it because they whistle very well (a signal of alarm, actually, used to alert the others of a predator in sight)? Is there someone actually hunting and eating marmots (which wouldn’t be that weird)? I dunno. I don’t even know if and how the marmots have had a negative impact on this ecosystem. Since they’re rodents, one would think they do have some kind of negative impact, since rodents reproduce fast and eat a lot, and this particular rodents also dig burrows in the ground, an habit that has created problems in a completely different environment with a completely different burrowing rodent, the Coypu (Myocastor coypus) – more on that will be the subject of a future post.