The Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) is a frequent visitor to Mount Barker from Spring to Autumn, in small numbers they don’t pose an issue, however since 2018 we have experienced an increase in their numbers and this high number of birds in large flocks can impact our community, our parks and some community assets.
The modification of habitat and landscape has been identified as the best long-term method to deter Little Corellas. Council is looking at employing this long term approach by modifying parts of Keith Stephenson Park to make this location less inviting to the Little Corellas.
Mount Barker District Council supported the University of South Australia in their recent report "Little Corellas Social and Ecological Research for Management in South Australia". To get a better understanding of the difficulties associated with management of Little Corellas in the urban environment Council recommends that our community read the report.
From September onwards Council will continue to play an active role in the scaring of the Little Corellas from key sites in Mount Barker.
For maximum effect the scaring will occur at random times throughout the day and week, with no shots being fired after 9pm. Please keep dogs that are scared of loud noises properly restrained.
The following locations are sites that the Little Corellas have frequented in Mount Barker:
- Keith Stephenson Park
- Laratinga Wetlands (Bald Hills Road end)
- Aston Hills Golf Club
SA Special Operations have been engaged to scare Little Corellas away from key sites in Mount Barker
What do they look like?
Little Corellas are mostly white, with a fleshy blue eye-ring and a pale rose-pink patch between the eye and bill. In flight, a bright sulphur-yellow wash can be seen on the underwing and under tail.
Did you know?
The scientific name for Little Corella, Cacatua sanguinea, means 'Blood-stained Cockatoo' and refers to the dark pink markings between the eye and the bill
Where do they live?
Little Corellas are widespread throughout Australia and often form large flocks, especially along watercourses and grasslands.
Are they a pest?
Little Corellas are an Australian native species whose behaviour can be problematic for local communities. They can cause significant damage to vegetation, as well as infrastructure, and their collective noise is disturbing and in some cases distressing to local residents.
The flocks currently frequenting our district has increased significantly in recent years, which is consistent with flock behaviour in a number of other regional townships.
Little Corellas feed in large noisy flocks. The birds feed mainly on the ground, and have to drink on a daily basis. The most common foods are grains and grass seeds. Some bulbs and fruits may also be eaten.
Little Corellas have been known to damage electrical cabling, chew new vine shoots, damage revegetation, forage in newly sown crops and cause damage to a variety of sports playing surfaces and assets as well as having a significant impact on many large trees where they congregate.
The damage to trees is caused by the birds effectively adapting 'their' environment by removing foliage and some small branches in order to improve their ability to detect any potential predators.
Living with us
What can you do?
Little corellas are a native bird species, but are not ‘protected’ in South Australia.
Property owners experiencing detrimental impacts caused by Little Corellas can use a variety of non-lethal methods to try to deter the birds. 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.
In South Australia, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 does not list this species as protected. This means that private property owners, with the appropriate licences, may destroy Little Corellas consistent with relevant codes of practice.
The Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources has prepared a guideline which allows for the code of practice for the humane destruction of birds by shooting, or trapping. It is available on their website www.environment.sa.gov.au - and it is a legal requirement that all Corella management activities comply with this code.
Rural property owners must comply with requirements and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Country Fire Service (CFS) when using gas guns to deter these birds from their property.
Police approval may also be required for the discharge of firearms in a built up area.
Important to know
Whilst Little Corellas are not listed as a protected 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.
What are we doing?
An important part of any control program is understanding 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 guide Councils future management actions to deter the birds from damaging key assets.
Little corellas are now commonly found throughout the state. An expansion of their range has likely occurred due to habitat modification resulting in more available water and food (primarily grasses) similar to the grassy woodlands where they originally occurred.
Development of a state-wide management strategy
Managing little corellas and the damage they can cause has been a difficult issue to resolve over recent years. Mount Barker District Council is playing a role in the development of a State-wide Little Corella Strategy.
What are we doing locally?
In 2017 Council participated in a ‘Citizen Science’ partnership project involving the University of South Australia, the Department for Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), the Local Government Association (LGA) and 5 other Councils.
A project report identified local areas which have attracted Corellas. Three intervention levels were also identified to discourage flocking in urban areas – short, medium and long term.
It highlights the need to identify key assets and areas where Corellas are likely to be undesirable, and to modify those environments to deter the birds. This may involve encouraging flocks to relocate to other “sacrificial” areas.
A key site currently being heavily impacted upon by Corellas is Keith Stephenson Park (KSP) in Mount Barker. Medium term interventions have been earmarked for this site to discourage the Corellas from finding KSP a desirable habitat area.
Council is embarking on works program which will reduce KSP’s suitability as habitat for Corellas by:
- Decking specific areas of the lake edge to reduce access to water through changing grades at the waters edge.
- Benching all other areas of lake edge and planting reeds/sedges to prevent direct access to water for the Corellas.
- Under planting all large Eucalypts with understorey plants to reduce the “clear zone” Corellas prefer under roosting trees.
- Ongoing revegetation of the creek corridor.
These works will be undertaken progressively.
To address short term impacts Council has engaged a contractor to “move” the flocks around through the use of bird fright shells and laser lights. Both scaring techniques have had some success both in Mount Barker and state-wide.
Further information on Little Corellas can be obtained by contacting The Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources or visiting their website www.environment.sa.gov.au