Subject: Ferals
From: Craig Williams <>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 15:34:49 +1000
Some good points on the question of ferals made in these postings.

I'm presently working on submissions to a local council regarding
control measures and community education about feral birds (and other
organisms), also, in the process, fleshing out arguments about changes
in dynamics to habitat favouring particular local species rather than
others.  This sort of lobbying can be quite difficult at times as often
the response from those with any sort of power to administer better
policies tends to rest on superficial indicators of birdpopulations and
a kind of bottom-line ecological health.  In the Lake Macquarie area,
for instance, and I'm sure everyone will be familiar with such matters,
Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets are arguably benefitting from land
clearance and council revegetation work at the expense of other bird
species.  I'm trying to draw attention to the importance of preserving
gully networks along creek lines featuring Swamp Mahogany.  These are
critical lines for the movement of migratory honeyeaters into and
through the region, including Regents among many others.  But local
people tend to only see and appreciate dominant species such as Noisy
Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets: not necessarily any harm in that, but my
view is we need to get out into the territory and demonstrate all the
subtleties and the importance of all other birds in the overall health
of ecological systems.

So I agree that is it critical to register sightings and behaviour of
not only ferals, in addition to the delights of recreational, indigenous
bird-ticking, but also the most common indigenous species and their
range shifts.  Not sure if I'd be a good exterminator however: I've
checked out some of the sites dealing with Indian Mynah control and have
been rather chilled at the spectacle of all those yellow upturned feet
after gas processing!!!!!!  All a bit too final solutionish for my

Ahh, to be able to kill the undesirables without compassion!  Watched a
Collared Sparrowhawk make a mess of a Noisy Miner the other morning,
including a visible spray of blood from the victim that made Hitchcock's
central marauders in The Birds look tame by comparison.  I've never seen
local birds of prey take out Indian Mynah in the same way which is a
shame: perhaps they just don't taste as sweet?

Craig Williams

>>> Lawrie Conole <> 04/27/05 2:31 PM >>>

> The second is that I feel it is important to report sightings of feral

> species.  How else do you generate data on range expansion or 
> increases in numbers?  One can't just put one's head in the sand 
> (merely an expression - not for a moment suggesting this is the case 
> here) and pretend that ferals will go away if we ignore them.  I 
> suggested a little while ago that it's about time that someone (ie 
> government) drew a line in the sand and attempted to arrest the spread

> of Common Mynas into areas they don't currently occupy.  We can only 
> lobby for this (is Birds Australia making such a stand?) if we have 
> the data to suggest that this species is continuing to spread.

Good point well made David.

I think the background here is partly a reflection of the nature of 
various kinds of 'birding'.  Pure recreational birding with no 
imperative to leave an inventory record anywhere for future reference is

likely to leave out the perceived undesirables - ie. "I'm not interested

in ferals, so why remind myself of their presence?". 

As David has suggested though, often the only data we have for the 
current/expanding/decreasing range of many of these pests comes from 
just such a source - recreational birding - as the kind of survey effort

required to cover Australia with methodologically precise surveys is 
just economically and practically unfeasible.  Many of Australia's 
existing feral birds are still expanding their ranges - some like the 
Common Myna and Blackbird very vigorously - others like the Song Thrush 
more slowly and insidiously.  Other new feral species are establishing, 
or are likely to.

Please always note ferals on your area lists, and moreover, please 
always contribute your area/site lists to one of the state government 
atlas databases, or to Birds Australia's ongoing Atlas.

*Lawrie Conole
*/Senior Ecologist
Ornithology & Terrestrial Ecology
Ecology Australia Pty. Ltd.
/Flora and Fauna Consultants/
88B Station Street
*FAIRFIELD VIC 3078 Australia*
Ph: (03) 9489 4191; Mob: (0419) 588 993
Fax: (03) 9481 7679
ABN 83 006 757 142

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