To: "Geoff (BT)" <>, <>
Subject: sparrows
From: "Ricki Coughlan" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 09:24:03 +1100
I agree with your sentiments entirely, but I also remain aware of instances such as that of the Parma Wallaby (in the 1960's). For almost a century, this species was considered to be extinct. Then, in 1966 during a campaign to eradicate feral Tamar Wallabies on an island off the coast of New Zealand, a number of Parma Wallabies were discovered quietly living amongst them. Imagine our joy. I remember the elation very well. This was not at all diminished by the subsequent discovery of hitherto unknown populations of Parma Wallabies on the coastal ranges north of the Sydney Region.
Having recently been a carer for a significant number of Parma Wallabies whose ancestors came from those islands, I cannot understate the gratitude I feel for the scoundrel who wrongly introduced those beautiful little Parma Wallabies to that New Zealand island so long ago. "Parmas" are now considered pretty secure.
Having read your take on the House Sparrow "decline" in the UK, perhaps I have been mislead about this by British birding tourists and the media and we should get on with appropriate measures to control these little brown feral fellas.
Meanwhile, House Sparrows appear to be doing very little displacing of Australian native species away from urban areas, though I'd love to see some robust research on this matter. European Starlings, on the other hand, appear to be quite invasive. I have seen large flocks (in excess of 100 birds at a time) well outside of urban fringes, even in the wilds of the Northern Territory. This requires more urgent attention than Indian Mynahs or House Sparrows in urban situations in my view.
Populations of feral birds seem to be as habitat dependant as any of our native species. It may well be that appropriate measures such as those proposed by the Birds in Backyards program could invite sufficient numbers of our native birds back into urban Australia to help offset the sad overabundance of feral species. At the same time, appropriate adjustments to the urban landscape could also directly affect the populations of feral species, thus forcing them into decline by a two-pronged attack.
Happy birding
Rick Coughlan
Sydney, Australia
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