The new year brings an abundance of new birdlife at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and despite the drought, this year is no exception.
The gardens are being inundated with tens of thousands of birds for the breeding season of cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) currently under way, while Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) breeding, which continues throughout the year, also peaking after Christmas.
Breeding season for the cattle egret is between October and March.
At the Botanic Gardens, mother cattle egrets started making nests in trees before Christmas, with the chicks hatching now.
During this period many deaths occur among the young birds due to a number of natural causes such as strong winds, sibling dominance, hunger and genetic weakness. Weaker chicks can be “evicted” by siblings or parents.
This is nature’s survival of the fittest, and helps control population numbers.
While most chicks are fed in nests in the trees, mothers can still feed their chicks on the ground if they choose.
Visitors to the Gardens can help
This is a natural process and parks officers ask that people do not handle fallen birds. Deceased birds are removed and disposed by Council staff regularly.
Cattle egrets and ibis in urban areas can contribute to:
- smell and noise
- damage to vegetation and a reduction in biodiversity
- health and hygiene concerns
- approaching people for food.
Council does get complaints about the bird colonies but has limited ability to control this.
Residents can help by not feeding birds in parks and at cafes, disposing of rubbish responsibly and covering bins.
Signs around the Botanic Gardens notify people about the birds, however the nesting areas are extensive, scattered around the Gardens and change location from year to year.
The breeding locations seem to have changed this year and Council is now looking at placing temporary signs in the new breeding sites.
Bundaberg Botanic Gardens staff worked over the Christmas break and handled any issues when they saw them.
Council responds to all comments that they receive about birdlife and wildlife at the Botanic Gardens and from the public.