Johannesburg’s urban forest is home to wonderful bird-life



Because of Johannesburg’s extraordinary number of trees it has developed its own micro-climate and this, together with the number of green lungs in the form of golf courses and parks, as well as the abundance of food and nesting opportunities in the leafy suburbs, has attracted an increasingly varied bird life to the city and its outskirts. I grew up in Johannesburg and birds like starlings, loeries, hadedas, puff-back shrikes etc. were seldom if ever found in Johannesburg.  Now they are common visitors to our gardens. The rose-ringed parakeet is another of these new inhabitants.   These beautiful green birds , with fabulous turquoise tail feathers get their names from the red neck-ring which the male has (seen on the top bird on the above).  They are noisy gregarious birds who announce their presence with loud squawks.  We have heard them often here at Liz at Lancaster both flying over and sitting on the bare branches of the neighbour’s  tree.  This last week however, two finally found the bird feeder in the garden and embarked on a major feedathon for about 20 minutes. The next morning they were back, but now,  like my sons, they had brought all their friends to partake of Liz at Lancaster’s fare! And now they fly in morning and evening like clockwork.  Although, it’s wonderful to see their glistening chartreuse green at the bird tray, they can apparently take over.  They aren’t indigenous to South Africa but, like elsewhere in the world, are escapees from aviaries and have established feral populations. There are feral populations in London  and other parts of England, in  Europe and the U.S.   See  Originally from North Africa and India, these birds are very adaptable and have few natural enemies.   

Apart from the standard doves, sparrows and pigeons, other birds which are regular feeders Liz at Lancaster’s bird tray are glossy starlings, crested barbets, red bishops, grey loeries (the go-away bird), masked weavers, bulbuls,  & olive thrushes amongst others.   And birds which come to the garden but feed on insects are Cape robins, puff-back shrikes, white-eyes and even a male paradise flycatcher seen on the right.  The black sunbird loves the aloes and we hear green pigeons, the rain bird or Burchell’s Coucal, the Boubou shrike and at night the water dikkops.

On quiet evenings we hear the Cape eagle owls which roost down at Delta Park.  Delta Park has an amazingly prolific bird life.   Nearly 240 species have been recorded there.  For more see

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  1. Geoff
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Liz,

    Have you figured out what these green birds are? I’ve been seeing them more and more often around jhb’s northern suburbs!

  2. Posted October 7, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Sorry about late reply. They are rose-ringed parakeets. Escaped from aviaries initially but now breeding in the wild.

  3. Maggie
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi Liz

    Just for interest sake, I spotted a pair of stunning light green long tailed birds (probably the rose-ringed parakeets) at Willson/Kings Park in Berario, Northcliff last weekend. They were a very light green? they flew about in the area where the Fairlands Spruit runs through Berario – Fairlands. Beautiful sighting – made my day!

    Have a lovely Easter! Will look out for them this weekend again…

  4. Posted June 14, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Hi Maggie, Sorry about the late reply. Yes – green long tailed birds can only be ther rose ringed parakeets. Thanks for feedback.

  5. John
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Good morning, any rose ringed parakeets in Bryanston area?

  6. HI Liz
    Posted September 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    HI Liz

    I live in Paulshof in the North of Johannesburg. Yesterday I spotted a green bird that looked like a parrot flying around my complex. I live close by to the Rietfontein Nature Reserve but I doubt that it came from there. It did not have a long tail like the above Rose-Ringed parakeet. What else could it be?

    My roommate has also spotted lovebirds sitting on the roof of the building. Do you think these are birds that have escaped aviaries?

  7. Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Hi Helen, It is almost certainly a lovebird. They were originally aviary escapees like the rose-ringed parakeet and are breeding in the wild. I went for a bird walk in Delta Park with Geoff Lockwood a couple of years ago and we saw a love-bird and a parakeet that had teamed up as a pair. Geoff said that some species are even interbreeding.

  8. Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Hi John, I think they are all over Joburg. Interestingly I think they move to warmer slopes/facings/parts during winter as I definitely hear and see them less in winter. Would be interesting to know how far they move.

  9. Averil
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Have three green long tailed Indian ringnecks that have found my bird feeder … thought the first one was an escapee but too wild to be one; first sight of a human even through a windows and they are off ! … lovely to see; get so much pleasure from seeing them in my garden; have regular daily visits from our friends the hadeda’s, a group of about 4 red headed finches; little white eyes, crested barbets; black collared barbets, red bishops; the occasional lourie & glossy starlings that enjoy the fruit; bulbuls enjoy the seed and bread together with the weavers; a pair of white throated sunbirds visit to extract nectar from the flowers; and nested in my atrium last year but sadly my cat got their baby… copius amounts of doves/pigeons; once in a blue moon we get the green wood hoopoes flying in and off again; there are crows that occassionaly fly over; being not too far away from the Cottesmore Park & (klein jukskei)? river in Bryanston probably helps…

  10. Posted March 15, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this feedback. You have an amazing variety of birds in your garden. I’ve never had red-headed finches but have had a paradise fly catcher. I love the way Joburg is attracting more and more birds to the garden suburbs.

  11. Allison
    Posted April 4, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Liz,

    I have seen these parakeets flying over our area (Centurion) on a daily basis. I thought they were from an aviary but now believe they are wild after seeing your blog. I’m blessed to have regular daily visits from hadeda’s, white eyes, crested barbets, occasionally red bishops, many grey louries, glossy starlings, bulbuls, white bellied sunbirds and my favourites the violet wood hoepoes. At this time of year many green pigeons that feed on my firethorn berries, they are a delight to behold. (some pics on my Facebook page). We are so fortunate to have so many stunning birds in our garden. We very occasionally get the beautiful flycatchers.
    Thanks for your blog.

  12. carole
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Just saw two in Rietvlei nature reserve this morning

  13. chase
    Posted July 12, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I have spotted these green parakeets in bedfordview jhb and Lyndhurst they seem a lot like my Indian ringneck parakeet, amazing I am happy that they are thriving in the wild.

    The love birds too I have spotted in sunninghill t
    Next door to the hotel school building I saw 3 sitting on the roof making a noise I was shocked never seen them in the wild surviving would love to find their nest and get a baby.

  14. David
    Posted July 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Liz

    I have seen more than 30 of these indian ringnecks. mostly green,a couple of yellow and 2 blue. Around green arces office park daily. I got a feeling that someones aviary door was left open and they flew out. But I must say they have adapted to the Johannesburg climate very well. I have notice them for the past 2 years now.

  15. Megan
    Posted August 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I saw a few of these today at Camdeboo Spa opposite Irene dairy farm in Centurion. So glad I could find out what they are! Beautiful to see

  16. Morne Ferreira
    Posted May 5, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Saw a flock of possibly 40 flying over our building at SITA centurion at 06:40 this morning. 10 or so landed in acacia trees in our grounds and feasted on the seedpods of the trees. Flew off after a while. Very nice to see. Even called my boss who is also an avid birder to come and see.

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