Tag Archives: Australia

‘Millions are dying’: Disturbing photo shows what is killing our native birds

Nadine Carroll Yahoo News Australia 28 October 2019

A magpie has shocked wildlife carers after a clump of tangled plastic and rubber was found inside the sick bird.

The staff at Perth’s Native Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Native ARC) said the bird was “emaciated, lethargic and extremely unwell” when it was bought into the hospital.

After medical care, the bird shocked staff when it passed the large amount of plastic.

“This is what was pooed out by a Magpie in our hospital this week,” the Native ARC staff wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“Upon inspection the item was a mix of balloon, plastic and rubber band,” the post continued.

The magpie was able to pass the large mass of intertwined rubbish after receiving medical care from the non-profit organisation and is on the road to recovery but Native Arc posted that the bird was one of the “lucky few that made it to medical care”.

The large clump of plastic that was passed by the magpie (left).

The magpie shocked staff when it passed a large clump of tangled plastic (left). Source: Getty stock/Facebook/Native ARC Inc

“It is estimated millions of birds die each year as a result of plastic ingestion,” Native ARC wrote.

The post urged people to do away with balloon releases and be more conscious of littering.

“This is a great example of why balloons and plastic should never be ‘released’ and why we all need to take care in how we dispose of waste.”

The post has been shared almost 1500 times and the majority of people seem to agree that there is nothing to celebrate when balloons are released into the environment.

“How sad. When will people realise how dangerous their abandoned rubbish is to our wildlife,” one person wrote.

“Releasing balloons is so wrong. What’s wrong with people… they only think of themselves and never the consequences of their actions,” another person added.

One person was shocked by how large the clump of rubbish was.

“That’s horrendous,” a user wrote.

“Poor little thing, what are we doing to our planet,” another added.


The Australian National University, Canberra

An experiment from The Australian National University (ANU) using artificial trees has attracted birds and other wildlife never before seen in a damaged Canberra landscape – catching them on camera at the same time.   

The experiment is a collaboration with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and uses a series of power poles and translocated dead trees erected in landscape under regeneration.

The ANU researchers saw a four-fold increase in bird species on five recently erected power-poles. There was also a seven-fold increase in bird species across five re-purposed dead trees.

In a separate project on the same site, the birds were captured on motion-sensitive cameras hidden in the artificial structures, with the footage providing a public database for species activity.

Associate Professor Philip Gibbons from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society wanted to test whether artificial structures could be used to provide a home for birds and other wildlife when mature trees were cut down for residential and other development.

He says the artificial trees work better than he “could have ever hoped for”.

“Even if we plant new trees elsewhere to replace those we knock down they take a century to mature and develop suitable habitats for birds and wildlife,” Associate Professor Gibbons said.

“Globally, mature trees are in decline and we’re going to see an absence of mature trees in some landscapes by the end of this century. So these artificial structures are really key to filling that gap to preserve the ecosystem.

“And from what we can see they work. Not only did they attract birds to the landscape, but they also provided a home for ladybirds, wood spiders and microbats.”

Associate Professor Gibbons said the artificial trees weren’t a “cure-all”.

“The structures can only do so much and we found 37 per cent of bird species that live in mature forests did not venture into the artificial structures,” he said.

“We need to preserve as many mature trees as we can, continue to plant more new seedlings for the future and then raise these artificial structures if we are to mitigate this deficit of mature trees for future generations.

“At the end of the day, you can’t beat real trees. But they can take years to grow. So this is a great option in areas needing regeneration or while you wait for trees to mature.”    

The study area, a 50-hectare site at Barrer Hill in the Molonglo Valley, has been set aside for regeneration to offset mature trees and other native vegetation cleared for new suburbs.

The final piece of the restoration project was a “living art sculpture” created from a 400-year old yellow box tree cut down in a nearby suburb and re-erected in the offset site.

Dr Mitchell Whitelaw from the ANU School of Art worked with American architect Joyce Hwang from University of Buffalo and Darren Le Roux of ACT Parks to install motion-sensitive cameras into the tree-sculpture.

They’ve captured images of more than 23 bird and animal species using the structures including a peregrine falcon, nankeen kestrel and tawny frogmouth.

More common species such as crimson and eastern rosellas, starlings, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, galahs, red wattlebirds, willie wagtails, red-rumped parrots, kookaburras, bats and marsupials are also using the structures.  

See Dr Whitelaw’s database of pictures and videos on the Molongolo Life website.

People can watch and contribute to the content by tagging and identifying species.

“As well as some delightful and beautiful images, we’ve caught footage of a currawong raiding a starling’s nest. This is the sort of action in nature people just don’t get to see every day,” Dr Whitelaw said.

“The database is a real-time record of the restoration of an ecosystem. We want people to feel connected to these public places and the wildlife in them.”

desperately seeking Stipiturus

Karen Hunt

Tom Hunt

They’re determined, these volunteers.

Why else would they slog , day after day, through kilometers of spiky, hummocky grasslands in the dry heat of the Victorian mallee, searching for a tiny bundle of feathers with an absurdly flamboyant tail?

Well, to find it, for one thing. And to count it, for another.

Because no one is sure how many of these tiny birds, the mysterious Mallee Emu Wren, Stipiturus mallee, remain in the lonely, semi-arid shrub lands that make up the Wyperfield, Murray-Sunset and Hattah Kulkyne National Parks in Victoria’s north west.

PhD student Simon Verdon from La Trobe University, leader of this somewhat masochistic band, wants to find out. He’s on a mission to do the most comprehensive survey of the Mallee Emu Wren in years, if not ever.

It’s not going to be easy. The emu wren is tiny, about the size of a golf ball, not counting a tail that’s almost twice as long again as its body, and which more strongly resembles filament-y emu feathers than the tightly controlled rear appendages of other wrens . Males sport a sky blue head and frontal bib but apart from that, they are the same colour as the dry spikes of Triodia grass in which they hide.

And that’s the rub – the birds like to hide in the middle of the almost impenetrable clumps of what’s aptly described as porcupine grass. What they eat, where they go, and what they are doing when they get there are also mysteries, but that’s a story for another day.

In the spring, when the counting begins, the males are more visible, flaunting their blue bibs, sashaying through the topmost spikes of the Triodia, tails erect. But only briefly, dropping into the all encompassing spikes at the drop of a volunteer’s hat. And the females remain as elusive as ever.

So the volunteer army, some 35 strong, tough, determined and indefatigable, venture into the wilderness, day after day, searching, and listening, and searching some more.

And reporting back to the man who counts.

A mischief of magpies – maybe

Karen Hunt

It was a quiet afternoon.

The family of magpies who had made my back lawn their afternoon tea spot were out in force, mum (or dad) and the four kids, just chillin”.

Without warning, Dad (or mum) flew in with capital punishment on his (or her) mind – and possibly murder in his (or her) heart.

I don’t know what the offending party had done – showed just a bit too much underwing at the bird bath when others were watching out? Added a flirty trill to the dawn chorus? Didn’t make sure all the kids got a worm? I’ll never know, but the punishment was swift, savage and relentless.

The attack continued for several minutes.

Tactically it was brilliant – the element of surprise followed by an all out attack, giving no quarter with the victim not having any chance to either fight back or flee. Who knew that magpies had mastered the Art of War?

The youngsters circled the battling pair uttering little cries of alarm but sensibly, keeping their distance.

And then it was done.

The victim fled. The attacker cast a disdainful glance in my direction, dismissed me as completely irrelevant, and settled down to find a grub. The kids took a quick meeting then surreptitiously moved off to the far corners of the lawn, and changed their minds about begging for a crumb.

And, once again, it was a quiet afternoon.

Animal lovers chasing glimpse of rare species fuel tourism boom but can create headaches

ABC Kimberley By Erin Parke

Discoveries of rare and endangered animals in Australia’s remote deserts have prompted mini tourism booms, but they are also causing some headaches for local Aboriginal rangers and their conservation efforts.

Bird obsessives, known as twitchers, have descended on remote sites in the wake of rare parrot sightings, such as the rediscovery of the princess parrot by rangers in 2012 in the Northern Territory.

“The scientists got really happy because it was the first one around that area, followed by all the birdwatchers,” said Anangu Luritjiku ranger Terrence Abbott.

“They wanted more details, so we tried to make it sort of secret at first because we didn’t want everyone arriving on a big bus.”

But the location soon leaked and lit up birdwatching chat pages online — and the twitchers started to arrive.

“We’ve got a permit system out there, but these ones here were illegal visitors without a permit.”

“When we went out there to patrol the area, we saw one tourist with a ladder on the top of his car, so we went and had a chat with him,” Mr Abbott said.

It’s a growing issue in areas where local Aboriginal rangers are making regular scientific breakthroughs, documenting the presence of animals thought to be extinct or only found in small geographical pockets.

The discoveries often come on Aboriginal-owned land where visitors — campers, fishermen or animal enthusiasts — require a permit to enter, something the rangers said many tourists did not realise.

The number of permit systems is growing in outback Australia; there are six in the Kimberley region of Western Australia alone, with most costing less than $50, including camping.

Bird-related tourism boom

Animal-inspired spike in tourism have helped fund ranger work and create local jobs.

After the night parrot — so rare it’s been referred to as the million-dollar bird — was photographed in the Great Sandy Desert in 2017, the number of visitor permits sold jumped 80 per cent.

Paruku head ranger Jamie Brown said they kept the news quiet for awhile to make sure the birds were protected.

“We were really worried because we didn’t want a big impact of lots of people coming in, and we didn’t know how to manage all of them as well as the bird,” he said.

“These twitchers, they love all sorts of birds, and this is a really rare one, so we could have a big run of people if we’d put it out straight away.”

“Most people who visit here do the right thing, they get their permit and they are respectful.

“Being a ranger is really good — it’s not just about the animals, we are getting more young people in to work with us and get out on country and learn from the old people.”

Hilarious photo shows a magpie taking VERY keen interest in a game of Scrabble

The moment a magpie appeared to be taking a keen interest in a game of Scrabble has been captured on camera.

The bird was spotted sitting next to a Scrabble dictionary and game board on a patio table.

The picture was taken outside an Australian home on Saturday afternoon.

The bird’s picture was posted to Reddit, where it attracted attention of hundreds.

‘He’s missing that triple word score,’ one person said. 

‘Well read birds. The mag in magpie stands for magazine after all,’ a second person said.

‘Magpies seem like the type to have the dictionary sitting next to them throughout the game,’ said a third person said. 

‘Magpies are so smart and seem to have a sense of humour and I really like them,’ yet another wrote.