Australian White Ibis fishing for crabs in the Cooks River. They also aerate our playing fields for free.

Australian White Ibis fishing for crabs in the Cooks River. They also aerate our playing fields for free.

This juvenile Australian White Ibis has a wingtag and a band on his leg.

This juvenile Australian White Ibis has a wingtag and a band on his leg.

It’s almost that time of the year when the Australian community is asked to participate in the Australian White Ibis and Cockatoo Count.

Australian White Ibis – the annual Australian White Ibis Count started 2003.

The news has been full of refugee stories. The Australian White Ibis is also a refugee, albeit an environmental refugee.  Sadly, in many people’s minds, they would like to declare war on these Australian native birds who have lost their traditional homeland.

Some people get scared about the behaviour of White Ibis around small children. It would be a rare Ibis that did not quickly leave if greeted by a person clapping at them. This is a non-violent method of removing them from where you are in the park if you believe them to be a threat to your family.

Many people have told me that they think they are ugly birds & I think this has much to do with the negative feeling towards them by an often-vocal section of the community.  That & they can smell, especially in breeding season.  Ibis do like to wash, but there is a shortage of fresh water to allow them to do this. Next time the storm water drains have a decent level of water, look & you will very likely see Ibis bathing.

They are intelligent birds with a gentle nature. They get on well with other birds & wildlife.  I have seen the same Ibis standing on a concrete path within a metre of a blue tongue lizard soaking up the sun together on more than one occasion.  They will often be seen hunting for food in the low tide with Great Eastern Egrets & Spoonbills.  I have never seen them act aggressively to another bird species, though they can have little spats amongst their own.  In the face of any threat they leave as fast as they can.

I know this because I spent almost three years trying to catch Ibis to remove string & fishing line tangled in their feet causing terrible pain & suffering. Spending a lot of time with Ibis allowed me to learn more about their nature & behaviour.   I have grown to love these birds.

It is worth noting that they are a protected species.

Prior to 1970 the Australian white ibis was rarely sighted in the Sydney region. However, extensive droughts, changes in water regimes, plus fires burning many of their nesting trees resulted in the birds flying to seek new homes. They found Sydney & plentiful food.

Australian White Ibis feed on invertebrates, crustaceans & our litter or handouts. They love human food, as it is tasty & easy for them. They are not above eating directly from garbage bins. They are a transient population & have been found to travel from Victoria all the way to Papua New Guinea.

The 2015 survey is on Sunday 11th October 2015. Counts may be submitted a few days earlier or after the 11th. The community is asked to check to see if any of the White Ibis have leg bands or wing tags.

A form to use in your count can be found here –

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 

In the 1950s the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo colonised Sydney. I am personally happy that there are Cockatoos in Sydney because I get great joy seeing these birds & watching their antics. Unfortunately, some people don’t like Cockatoos finding them too rowdy & destructive. I have been told that a Cockatoo has the brain of a 2-year-old child, so anyone who has had children will know how delightful & naughty they can be at this age.

The survey is to gain a better understanding of the distribution & abundance of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, to assess the habitats this species prefers & help develop conservation practices for these birds.

Apparently people confuse the Cockatoo with the Long-billed Corella & the Little Corella. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is the only one that has a yellow crest on their head.

The community is asked to look out for those Cockatoos that have wingtags & provide a photo if possible.

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Count is on Sunday 11th October 2015.

The form & more details of what the researchers are looking for can be found on this page –

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feasting on Podocarpus fruit in Canterbury.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos feasting on fallen Podocarpus fruit in Canterbury.