Saturday, November 8, 2014

Organized Gangs of Indian Myna Birds Ravage Inglewood

For once, parrots are not the plague. This article, in its entirety, appeared in Queensland Country Life, October 17, 2014:


THE southern Darling Downs town of Inglewood is fighting back against an Indian myna bird invasion which has driven out scores of native birds.

Four years ago the Indian myna bird population boomed as a result of easy access to food, water and ample shelter.

Contract pest animal controller Andrew Granzotto said Inglewood was unique haven because the Macintyre Brook swept around the town and river gums provided good nesting sites for birds.

Mr Granzotto was commissioned by the Queensland Murray Darling Committee and, along with volunteers Bob Lindner and Darryl Bleach, has spent the past year trapping and disposing of mynas.

Close to 850 mynas have been removed by the group and a further 200 to 300 have been removed by a nearby landholder across the Macintyre Brook. They estimate just 25 mynas remain in town.

"As you come into town we've got the yellow-faced parrot as our logo on our Inglewood sign. This year is the first time those parrots have been back in town for about three or four years," Mr Granzotto said.

"We also have king parrots, scaly-breasted parrots - we have a lot of parrots coming back into Inglewood because the myna birds have dropped down."

A cage trap with catching and holding pens is used to capture the birds.

The trap was specifically designed for myna birds; the entrances are 100 millimetres high to keep out native birds.

A live "Judas" bird is supplied with food and water and kept in each trap to call to other birds and lure them in to the cage.

The traps are checked every morning and the birds are humanely destroyed using a carbon dioxide chamber.

Mr Granzotto said by stopping the birds from breeding in town they hoped to put a dent in their population.

"The thing with the myna bird is they can have three broods per mating season and they can have six eggs per brood," he said.

"When they breed in a town because the food, water and shelter is so readily available each pair hatches 18 chicks every breeding season. Ten pair of breeders can turn into 180 birds in no time.

"Out in the bush, because the bush is hard living the natural culling process occurs and instead of rearing 18 they only rear about eight or nine."

Mr Granzotto said he had received interest in the program from Kingaroy, Warwick and Stanthorpe. If the success of the program continues they hope to roll it out in to other towns.

Locals now greet him downtown and comment on how pleased they are to see the native birdlife return.

"I've lived here for 14 years - finches, fairy wrens and kookaburras have all fluttered back this year and it's the talk of the town."

Any excuse to listen to an Aussie accent

Chalk one up for parrots.

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