Scientists have debunked the idea that parakeets were introduced to the UK by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
The vibrantly-coloured bird, which is a small to medium-sized species of parrot, has been in Britain for decades, though it was unclear how they were first introduced.
To solve the mystery, scientists used geographic profiling used to track down criminals – and analysed patterns of parakeet sightings over the past 50 years.
One popular theory is they were refugees from the film set of The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn and shot in Ealing in 1951, while another is that a pair were released by Hendrix on Carnaby Street, central London, in the 1960s.
Another idea suggests the birds kept at Syon Park escaped in the 1970s when a plane crashed through the aviary roof, while a fourth theory blamed the damage to aviaries after the Great Storm of 1987.
However, no evidence to support any of the myths surrounding the bright green birds’ origins in the UK was found, according to the study published in the Journal of Zoology.
Instead, the analysis shows that Britain’s booming parakeet population has grown from numerous accidental and intentional pet releases, and is backed by extensive search of archived newspaper articles.
Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, UCL and Goldsmiths, University of London concluded that health fears linked to fatal ”parrot fever” outbreaks may have caused releases in 1931 and 1952.
Study co-author Sarah Elizabeth Cox said: ”It is easy to imagine the headlines of 1952, such as ‘stop imports of danger parrots’ leading to a swift release of pets.”
Geographic profiling – the statistical technique used by scientists in the study – was originally developed in criminology and is typically used to map crime sites like the location of murder victims’ bodies.
None of the sites mentioned in the myths featured prominently in the geoprofile of more than 5,000 unique records dating from 1969 to 2018.
The study’s lead author Steven Le Comber said the spread of parakeets in the UK is ”likely a consequence of repeated released and introductions, and nothing to do with publicity stunts by musicians or movie stars”.
He added that the ”fun legends relating to the origins of the UK’s parakeets are probably not going to go away any time soon”.
Sightings of parakeets have dated back to the 1869s, scientists claim.
Researchers at Goldsmiths conducted a British Newspaper Archive search and found thousands of pages of news stories about parakeets written between 1804 and 2008.
However search word combinations failed to locate a single item of news coverage documenting the escape or release of parakeets in relation to the four myths.