A flock of rose-ringed parakeets flying around Kaua‘i. Photo courtesy DLNR

It’s another spectacular sunset near Spouting Horn on Kaua‘i’s South Shore. As people gather at the shoreline to catch a glimpse of the fabled green flash, their eyes turn inland for the green flash in the sky. This is the nightly invasion of rose-ringed parakeets.

The parakeets’ presence on Kaua‘i provides an example of how a seemingly innocuous species can become a public health hazard, a nuisance and have serious impacts on the economy and the environment, according to a recent news release from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“What turned out to be a novelty and something we’d kind of entertain ourselves with while we watched them roost in the evenings, turned into a nuisance once our farmers approached us and started saying, hey as cute as these birds are, they are very destructive to our lychee and longan crops. Increasingly we’ve been hearing more and more concerns from our farmers, our gardeners, from people who live in these neighborhoods; that unfortunately play host to these rose-ring parakeets,” Council Member Derek Kawakami said.

They’re also known as the ring-necked parakeets. Kawakami is one of numerous government representatives fielding calls about what’s become the most visible invasive species on Kaua‘i, according to DLNR.

Bill Lucey of the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee said they researched through the Bishop Museum and discovered there was a bed and breakfast somewhere in Lāwaʻi that brought some rose-ringed parakeets and clipped their primaries and had them sort of hanging out free by the front porch and around the B&B.

The first rose-ringed parakeets were apparently brought to Kaua‘i by a bed and breakfast owner in 1968. Photo courtesy of DLNR

“They got away from there and started establishing themselves at some point after 1968,” Lucey said.

Figuring out what to do about this marauding, winged invader has become a top priority for Lucey, his team, and many others.

“Parakeets are what we call a slow invader actually, since they’ve been here for 50 years or so. They don’t really exhibit a fast explosion until they reach a critical mass. So for a number of years there were 50 or a few hundred and then over time they reached the point where there are a few thousand and then they’re all having off spring. At that point it becomes a very strong invasion and the invasion curve starts increasing rapidly,” Lucey said.

Current estimates put the rose-ringed population at around 5,000 birds. That’s plenty to cause big headaches for Kaua‘i’s agricultural seed companies, small independent farmers, backyard growers