Birds in the Sydney CBD

The Rocks area, Sydney

The Rocks area, Sydney

While on our recent holiday in Sydney we went into the CBD on several occasions. One of those occasions was to visit the markets in The Rocks area.

My prime reason for going there was as a tourist, not as a birder. Not matter where I go I have to see what birds are around. That’s just me. I simply cannot ignore the birds. (I’ve even been known to keep a tally of birds seen through the windows at church! Go figure.)

The Rocks area is in the heart of the Sydney CBD, an area rich in history with most buildings being of some historic value. It attracts hoards of tourists and local visitors on a daily basis. Despite the numbers of humans, the bird population flourishes.

Rock Doves (Feral Pigeons) are everywhere. They thrive on food scraps from careless people dropping parts of their lunch in the many eateries in the area. I noticed that some are reluctant to even get out of the way as I walked along.

Silver Gulls likewise are in great numbers and also thrive on human food. Circular Quay with its hundreds of thousands of travellers daily on the ferries on Sydney Harbour is only a few steps away.

Pied Currawongs are also present in the treed areas within The Rocks. This is a species that has adapted to an urban environment and also feeds on human throwaways.

The introduced Common Myna (see photo below) is another species that has become a pest in urban zones and can be found in large numbers throughout Sydney.

Common Myna

Common Myna

 

6 Responses to “Birds in the Sydney CBD”

  1. mary says:

    The mynah is a pest only because of its success in establishing itself in the surroundings to which it was forcibly introduced. and it is a success because it is a clever bird that has been able to adapt. But it is a charming chocolate sweetie, compared to that other pesky pest, which is no doubt, also clever, in that it has learned to hang about in mobs that aggressively attack visiting birds and oust resident birds from their homes. Yes, I am talking about the noisy miner. many of my backyard friends like willie wagtail, magpie lark, crimson and eastern rosellas, kookaburras and other small birdies don’t come around anymore. This usurpation and depradation has happened just over two or three years and i am an eye witness to the crime. the criminal is the noisy miner. as a birder i hope you’ll be able to put the word out so that somebody can do something to protect and reintroduce the little birdies lost to neighbourhoods that are also frequented by the noisy miners. Thanks,dear, for your post.

  2. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your comments Mary.

    THis issue has been debated passionately amongst birders in Australia for over a decade. It is a very complex issue and one that is not easily solved.

    As you know, the Common Myna is an introduced species from SE Asia. Since introduction in the 1860s it has successfully colonised large areas Victoria, NSW and is expanding its range in Queensland. There have been a few isolated reports in Tasmania and Adelaide.

    The problem with this species is its aggressive nature towards native species and it is successful in displacing many of our smaller birds. It deprives native species of food sources and nesting sites.

    The Noisy Miner, one of our native honeyeaters species, is a different problem. Their numbers have increased rapidly in the last decade. This has been most noticeable in urban areas such as parklands, a habitat they thrive in. The general consensus is that they are good at exploiting the changing urban environment. The massive clearance of dense shrubby native plants to make way for expanding urbanisation has destroyed the environment for our smaller bush birds. The wrens, finches and pardalotes are often the first victims. Layer on the aggressive nature of the Noisy Miner and you have exactly the scenario you write about.

    The Noisy Miner thrives in open forest areas. Parklands and sterile neat gardens are ideal for them. I have long been an advocate for the planting of native Australian plant species in gardens as the most effective way of attracting and retaining the smaller bird species in our gardens. My wife and I are passionate about this (see her blog http://www.malleenativeplants.com.au/)

    Again – thanks for raising this issue.

  3. Mary says:

    Thanks, Trevor, it’s just as i thought. Both the Miner and the Mynah are now widely acknowledged as pests, but most people seem to be more biased againt the latter just because it is an introduced bird (not its fault!). However, as personalities go, the Miner is the viciously aggressive one, ganging up on and ferociously attacking even bigger birds like the kookaburra and the currowong, not to speak of smaller, more hapless birds.

    Moreover,it is easier to control the mynahs, I would think, because all one has to do (as I have done) is to remove their nests from the buildings (do they make any on trees?!). Not so easy to control the miners since they keep their distance from humans, do they not?

    Feral animals like rabbits and kangaroos can be culled, but I’m wondering whether birds can be. I do hate the practice, but it is either reduce the number of miners or suffer decimation of several other species, is it not? Of course, it would be wonderful if native gardening catches on but can the miners be then counted upon to say enough is enough, now there is plenty for everybody? I think their habits will die hard.

    Your pages, and your wife’s, make wonderful reading. Thanks a lot for all that people like you are doing for nature.

  4. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your kind words Mary. We enjoy sharing our respective passions with the readers of our blogs. Collectively with the four blogs that my wife and I write for we have over 1500 readers daily from over 100 countries, so the word is getting out there.

    Just a few words on controlling feral animals: this is a very emotive subject. Many people are totally opposed to any kind of culling, native or introduced. This is probably a head in sand attitude as it will ultimately lead to the demise of many species – as you have already observed.

    Probably the chief offender here is the common household cat. Cats have had a massive impact on our native fauna, not just birds. This continues unabated today. The list of other species that have had a significant impact on our environment – both flora and fauna – include foxes, camels, horses, rats, mice, sheep, cattle, pigs, buffalo, toads, carp (and other fish) – and this just the tip of the problem. Introduced plant species are another massive environmental issue too. One could go on and on.

    Culling is one solution and has been used with varying results. The continuing fight against the cane toad, for example, seems lost. From time to time Cockatoos cause localised problems and councils have commenced culling programmes (one such problem occurred a few years ago on our local golf course). The results are often mildly successful in the short term and totally futile in the long term.

    It’s a vexed problem with no easy solution unfortunately.

  5. Kerrith says:

    Help needed!! I have two finches in a cage that I like to hang outside during the day. Unfortunately we also have two honeyeaters that have taken to attacking the cage at every opportunity. I do not want to leave the cage inside permanently but do not know what else to do?? Any ideas on how I can have the cage outside and eliminate the problem of the honeyeaters??
    Kerrith

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi Kerrith,

    This is a perplexing problem indeed. I’m not sure why the honeyeaters are attacking the cage. I wonder if they are after water? You could try placing a bowl of water or even a bird bath nearby and see if that distracts them from the cage.

    They certainly would not be after the food: finches are seed eaters and honeyeaters are nectivorous and insectivorous.

    I doubt it would be the call that’s annoying them. I know if several people who keep finches in aviaries and the local honeyeaters never bother them.

    You didn’t say what kind of honeyeater: are they Noisy Miners (not to be confused with the Common Myna featured in the photo above – a completely different species). Noisy Miners are Australian native honeyeaters and have become very aggressive towards most other species of birds. You can see photos here:
    http://www.trevorsbirding.com/great-birding-moments-10-noisy-miner/
    If they are Noisy Miners they could be displaying their normal bully boy tactics.

    What to do about it?

    Can you drape something over the cage so the finches still get fresh air and sunshine and all the benefits of being outside – but in such a way that the honeyeaters cannot get at the cage? Would draping fly wire over the cage work? Shade cloth could do the same but you probably want the finches to be in the sun. Wouldn’t look to either, and messy to set up every time you put out the cage.

    I think I’d try the distraction process first. Try putting water close by so they find it. As they get used to it and use the water to bathe and drink, move it slowly further away, a bit further each day until they are no longer harassing the finches. Better yet, keep the finches inside while you are trialling this new treat for them, and reintroduce the finches after a few days of them getting used to the water. I think it’s worth a try.

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