Bird Interactions

Overview

The Southern Highlands has a rich diversity of bird species. Some of these species are seasonal visitors, while others are permanent residents residing in locations that have their preferred habitat. 

Birds are also one of the animals that we are likely to observe or interact with in our backyards, walking through bushland or cycling. 

Feeding Birds

Feeding wild birds is not recommended and is discouraged for the following reasons:

  • It can change bird behaviour: feeding birds can lead to unnatural behaviour, including encouraging dependency on humans for survival and, increased stress and aggression in birds.
  • It can lead to displacement: some species of birds will benefit more than others. Often larger or more aggressive birds will begin to dominate over time and displace smaller birds from the area. 
  • It can contribute to the spread of diseases and even bird death: depending on the feed provided, it can often lack the nutrients that birds require. This can cause malnutrition, sickness and deformities in birds and can contribute to birds becoming overweight. Bird feeders can concentrate where the birds are feeding, which can assist in the spread of disease like psittacine beak and feather disease among individuals.
  • It can lead to interactions with pest species and pets: seeds and other bird food can attract pest species like mice, rats and Common Mynas to your backyard. Pets, in particular cats, will often hunt birds that are attracted to the bird feeder.

If you are wanting the pleasure of watching birds in your backyard, creating a bird friendly garden is a more appropriate method for doing so.

Parrot

Image Credit - John Turnbill/ DPIE

Creating Habitat for Birds

A diverse garden provides living spaces for our native birds to shelter, nest and hide from predators, and provides a more sustainable solution to the impacts of introduced species such as the Common (Indian) Myna. To encourage native birds, try to maximise the diversity of plants and habitat features in your garden. You can do this by ensuring that you plant a variety of native groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Here are a couple of guides to get you started:

  • Planting for Birds

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is also known as psittacine circovirus (PCV) or Psittacine Circoviral Disease (PCD). This naturally occurring and widespread disease affects parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets, and has been confirmed in other bird species such as raptors. 

The disease is highly contagious and can be transmitted orally, via faeces and/or by contact with feathers. It can affect birds of all ages, but particularly juvenile and young adults. Most infected birds eventually die from the disease or secondary infections.

As the name suggests, the virus impacts the feathers and beaks of infected birds. Symptoms include:

  • Missing feathers and feather deformities
  • Feathers may also be darker or oily in appearance
  • Deformed, miscoloured, cracked or curled beaks

Magpies 

Magpies are protected throughout New South Wales, and it is against the law to kill the birds, collect their eggs, or harm their young.

Swooping

Magpies are very protective parents and they may swoop anyone seen as an intruder who might harm their chicks.

In the vast majority of cases the swooping is simply bluff, however sometimes people can receive minor head injuries as a result of swooping magpies.

The protective behaviour only lasts a few weeks. For the rest of the year the magpie is peaceful and valuable as an insect eater, renowned for its pleasant warbling. 

 

Precautions

There are a few precautions people can take during the period when Magpies are actively protecting their territory (normally August to October each year).

For more information visit the NSW Government’s website on the management of native birds that show aggression to people.

 

Reporting 

If you feel a magpie is a serious menace, it can be reported to Council on 02 4868 0888.

Common (Indian) Mynas

The Common (India) Myna is native to India and surrounding regions of Asia and were first released in Australia in 1862 to combat pests in Melbourne market gardens, and then released in other states. They are intelligent and highly adaptable birds which have become serious pests in urban areas of NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland and are starting to spread into rural areas. 

Common Mynas can often be confused with native, Noisy Miners. 

Common Myna Control

Control of Common Mynas in Australia is clearly desirable provided it can be achieved in a safe, humane and cost-effective manner. Council supports the control of Common Mynas through encouraging residents to modify their local habitat to increase native bird populations, and through a selective trapping program.

Trapping Common Mynas 

Selective trapping provides an effective, safe and humane way of controlling Common Mynas, and greatly reduces or eliminates the risk to non-target wildlife.

Specially designed 'Pee-Gee' traps can be purchased directly from Bowral Mens Shed at a cost of $50.00 per trap. The Shed is open Tuesday and Thursday 8.30am - 3pm. 

Address: Bowral Uniting Church, 28 Bendooley Street Bowral

Telephone: 02 4862 5285  

Mobile telephone: 0420 299 444

Humane Euthanasia of Common Mynas

Trapped Common Myna birds must be euthanised in a humane manner.

Trap operators must be willing to accept that humane killing is an important responsibility. The NSW Department of Primary Industries does not consider it humane to euthanise birds with exhaust gas from a car. The use of Carbon Dioxide is considered to be a humane means to euthanise Common Myna birds, when used in accordance with the methods outlined in Humane Methods of Euthanasia for Pest Animals.

Carbon Dioxide kits are available for purchase from companies such as Myna Magnet.

Citizen Science 

Citizen science provides a unique opportunity for individuals to participate in data collection and/or analysis activities, particularly in relation to environmental issues or questions, but also in many other fields of endeavour.

Bird watching is one of the world’s largest citizen science initiatives, with many projects and programs set up to assist with bird watching, identifying birds and recording sightings. Check out Council’s Bird watching in the Southern Highlands and Citizen Science page for more information. 

Birdlife Southern Highlands have developed a brochure that recommends birdwatching areas throughout the Southern Highlands.