Reporting sightings of Little Corellas
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In South Australia, Little Corellas or Cacatua sanginea are an Australian native species whose behaviour can have a detrimental impact from economic, environmental and social perspectives.
The population of Little Corellas frequenting the Council region has increased significantly in recent years. The diversity in agriculture activities in the region provides an ideal food source for Little Corellas which include grain and cereal crops, orchards, open grassed areas, pine trees and stockpiles of grape marc, to name a few. The abundance of food sources, combined with the presence of permanent water sources and roosting sites provide an attractive area for these birds.
Problems caused by Little Corellas
Little Corellas have been known to damage electrical cabling, chew new vine shoots, forage in newly sown crops, damage a variety of sports playing surfaces and assets in the region and defoliate trees. This, combined with their ability to produce a significant amount of noise when in large flocks and their potential to spread disease, makes the Little Corella a significant source of nuisance for the community.
Typical behaviour of Little Corellas
It is the behavioural nature of Little Corella flocks to gather and descend on a few localised areas which can cause problems in town areas when they flock in large numbers. They are highly intelligent birds with a communal and habitual nature. It is likely one of their motivations for roosting in town is for shelter and security.
The typical daily activity pattern for Little Corellas is to start calling at first light and as the light grows, birds begin to move about the roost trees and calling intensifies. The birds will then commence feeding and foraging for food. Little Corellas return to the evening roosting site near sunset and are often noisy while settling to roost.
It is not until the autumn break when significant rainfall softens the ground over a wide area, often in April or May, that these flocks once again disperse into smaller groups for the winter and feed by digging in the now softer ground for bulbs and corms. By August, pairs have once again moved close to the nest hallows to feed and prepare for breeding.
What can residents do?
In South Australia, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 declares this species (Little Corella) to be unprotected. This means that private property owners, with the appropriate licences, may destroy Little Corellas by shooting without a permit.
The Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resouces has prepared a code of practice for the humane destruction of birds by shooting, which is available on their website www.environment.sa.gov.au. It is important that this code of practice is followed at all times.
Property owners experiencing detrimental impacts caused by Little Corellas can use a variety of non-lethal methods to deter them from frequenting their property. These include the use of loud, sharp noises where appropriate or rotating flashing lights and high powered torches between sunset and sunrise. The use of physical barriers such as bird netting or visual deterrents may also be used in some situations.
Rural property owners must comply with requirements set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and Country Fire Service (CFS) when using gas guns to deter these birds from their property.
It is important to employ a multi-faceted approach with a number of control mechanisms to ensure that the birds do not become accustomed to one particular control method. Of particular importance is to restrict their access to food sources where possible, specifically stockpiles of grape marc.
Whilst Little Corellas are listed as an unprotected species, a number of protected species are known to flock with Little Corellas. This includes the Long-Billed Corella (which is similar in appearance) and the sulphur-crested cockatoo. Both species are protected and must not be destroyed without a permit.
Rural property owners should discourage these birds from accessing water sources which include stock troughs and pooled water as well as food sources such as stockpiles of grape marc.
What action is Council undertaking?
An important part of any Little Corella control program is understanding their behaviour. To have an effective management approach it is necessary to know where the flocks are roosting, where they are feeding and how they move about during the day. All of this information will help determine the current and future management approaches, and their effectiveness.
The Barossa Council will commence its program to manage the Little Corellas during November to decrease the negative impact large flocks are having on some sections of the community.
This program includes the following measures to unsettle the flocks and disperse their community:
- the use of rotating or strobing lights, high powered torches and starting pistols
- the discreet culling of a small number of birds in appropriate locations
- working with property owners to limit access to food and water sources
The Barossa Council is co-ordinating a working group which consists of Council officers and a number of property owners which are experiencing the impact of large flocks of Little Corellas. The working group also consists of representatives from SA Police and Light Regional Council in an effort to apply a more regional approach.
Further Information and feedback
Further information on Little Corellas can be obtained by contacting Council's General Inspectors on 8563 8444 or The Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources on 8204 1910 or visiting their website at www.environment.sa.gov.au.