Lazy Birds of Byron Bay

Humans aren’t the only ones to flock to Byron Bay.

It seems that Byron Bay’s reputation as a tropical, hippy haven hasn’t been lost on the local bird population who flock here in droves. It seems they’ve found a free meal ticket cleaning up after messy, grotty humans as well as turning to begging and crime: “Please Sir. I want some more!”

So, rather than introducing you to all the stunning, more popular birds, today I’m exposing the lazy hangers-on. What are often referred to colloquially as “pests”.

Starting off with the native White Ibis, we spotted this birds foraging through rubbish bins, which didn’t raise an eyebrow because these birds literally survive on such junk food and have even been rumoured to eat battery acid from old car batteries. I know that doesn’t sound very compassionate but try eating a sandwich in the park near one of these birds and no guesses who’ll win. These birds can be thugs!

If you look left, you can see Ibis foraging in the grass like a herd of cows.

If you look left, you can see Ibis foraging in the grass like a herd of cows.

Although we Australians should be enamored with all our native bird species, even the sea gull, the Ibis is often considered a pest. Known colloquially as “dumpster divers”, “flying rats” and “tip turkeys”, Although you currently find them in urban and coastal environments, they hark from wetlands further inland which have significantly shrunk since the 1970s. However, unlike other affected species, the ibis made the surprise move to near the coast, where their numbers thrived. I recommend you read: The Ibis: A Native Bird Misunderstood:

Couldn't find any photos of sea gulls at Byron Bay so these ones are closer to home.

Couldn’t find any photos of sea gulls taken at Byron Bay so these ones are closer to home.

The Sea Gull is another notoriously lazy bird. Although I’ve read that Sea Gulls are actually rather smart and can crack molluscs open by dropping them on a rock,you’ve got to wonder how much real food they eat when they feast all day on hot chips. Indeed, when it comes to feasting off human beings and living the lazy bird life style, seagulls have got it down to a fine art. Moreover, unlike dogs, they don’t even have to use puppy dog eyes to get what they want.
Mister feeding left over bread to the sea gulls back in 2009, aged 5.

Mister feeding left over bread to the sea gulls back in 2009, aged 5.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

However, although sea gulls can be rather annoying and they’re so common that they’re not all that exciting, I still have a soft spot for them. You see, one of my favourite books of all time is Richard Bach’s Jonathon Livingstone Sea Gull. It’s an absolutely incredible, life-changing book. So, if you haven’t read it, get a copy immediately. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.00.

Pied Currawong, Byron Bay Lighthouse looking towards Julien Rocks.

Pied Currawong, Byron Bay Lighthouse looking towards Julien Rocks.

At Byron Bay Lighthouse, we also spotted the Currawong, which was cleaning up biscuit crumbs.

While Currawongs don’t bother humans, they are the bully boys of Australian birds. There is good evidence that Currawongs are targeting babies of other birds to feed their own nestlings. Currawongs have been recorded taking babies of small birds like Thornbills and Fairy Wrens, Bronze-winged pigeons and even ducklings….and you thought it had a pretty face! http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/fact-sheets/conservation-the-environment/currawongs/#.Vhjgzisve4o

That face also seems to tell me:”It’s all lies. It wasn’t me!”

Don’t believe it! Scientists are vigilant and they have proof!

Brush Turkey Crossing the Car Park, Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Brush Turkey Crossing the Car Park, Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Now, we’re onto the Brush Turkey.

Indeed, a Google search on the much maligned Brush Turkey pointed straight to Brush Turkey Solutions http://www.brushturkeysolutions.com.au/ . These people will relocate a bush turkey which has moved into your backyard. I’ve got to say that Australians historically have not dealt with such pests well and it’s a relief to find a fully qualified animal behaviourist who will help you re-home this birds in a humane way. Their web site also has some great information about the Brush Turkey and is well worth a read. http://www.brushturkeysolutions.com.au/#!bush-turkey-biology/cfvg

Personally, I love Brush Turkeys. Large, ground-dwelling birds are quite a novelty. Indeed, I only saw my first Brush Turkey about 10 years ago. They used to turn up at playgroup in Pearl Beach and the kids used to chase them. So, really all I saw back then was a “flash”.

In this time, however, populations of Brush Turkeys have taken off and their huge mounds where they incubate their eggs aren’t always appreciated in suburban backyards.

We saw quite a few Brush Turkeys while in Byron Bay and I must say that pretty much like the Ibis, they don’t seem to mind humans and were quite close. Usually, I’ve known them to be more shy.

Magpie on the roof of the lighthouse keeper's cottage, Byron Bay lighthouse.

Magpie on the roof of the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, Byron Bay lighthouse.

A late addition…not to be forgotten, the Magpie. Most of the time, relations between humans and magpies are very good. Indeed, quite often humans adopt wild magpies and feed them on a daily basis. Our pensioner neighbours back home feed meat to the magpies every day and welcome them. That was until junior became a bit too demanding and was deemed a pest.

During nesting season, however, magpies can be quite terrifying as they swoop at passersby.

To hear the magpies amazing song, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYEYc8Ge3nw

So, I apologise for not introducing you to the more popular Australian birds. Stay tuned. It’s coming up but not any time soon.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

xx Rowena

8 thoughts on “Lazy Birds of Byron Bay

  1. Norah

    I love our birds. Even the ibis. I saw some black ibises recently. Gorgeous! Until then I didn’t even know they existed.
    I agree with you about Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It is one of my favourite books. I have read it many times. Pathways to perfection is a wonderful philosophy.
    (I am now listening to “Outliers” and really enjoying it, though am finding some ideas challenging. Thanks for the recommendation.)

  2. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Share: Byron Bay – Back to Earth. | beyondtheflow

  3. merrildsmith

    Interesting post, Rowena, and great photos! I didn’t know ibises were considered pests. My older daughter used to work for an organization called “Ibis.” Apparently in many cultures, the birds are also associated with fertility and women’s knowledge about reproduction.

    I like watching all types of birds out in the wild. We have many wild turkeys around here, although they are not as colorful as yours. We get seagulls here, too, although I think about them more when we’re at the beach.

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Merril. I think people are concerned about the Ibis spreading disease as they rummage through garbage dumps as well as being pestered by them. I can understand why they’re associated with fertility. While they don’t quite breed like rabbits around here, they are plentiful.
    By the way, you may not be aware that rabbits have caused much environmental damage here and these plagues have been controlled by introducing biological attack. Mixamitosis was spread throughout the rabbit population going back and after they were becoming immune, another virus has been developed. I know this sounds awful but the rabbits were getting additional breeding cycles in here and ravaging the countryside. Hope you are having a good week. xx Rowena

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