You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Australian White Ibis’ tag.

Ibis work for free aerating the park lawns & playing fields. I think they are a lovely sight down along the Cooks River.

Once again we have an opportunity to help the Office of Environment & Heritage know how many Australian White Ibis we have in Australia & where they are located.

Many people dislike Ibis & call them Bin Chickens because they are often seen picking through garbage.   The truth is that they do have a particular like of your leftovers, particularly takeaway food items.  However, if the Ibis could buy fresh items of takeaway they would.  Instead they are forced to try to reduce landfill or deal with your eatable litter.

They are environmental refugees & because of this, I believe they deserve more tolerance from the community. 

Prior to 1970 they lived in the inland lakes & rivers of NSW.  But tragedy happened with a long persistent drought drying up these places of fresh water.  Then bushfires claimed the large trees they nested in.

So, what does anyone do when their home becomes inhabitable?  They move.  The Ibis flew to the coast & what they found was a life of luxury & easy pickings because humans eat a lot, & throw tons of tasty food away – be it in landfill or in the park.  An Ibis is not concerned with poking about in a bin.  If there is a bit of hamburger down there, he/she wants it.

I often read comments in media & social media about how Ibis terrorize people for food.  Truly, they are not violent birds.  All you need to do is wave your hands or stand up or clap & the Ibis will run away from you as fast as their long skinny pink legs can carry them.  Their long black beak may look intimidating, but it is not a natural behaviour for them to try & poke out the eyes of a human being.  Even when they are being rescued they are desperate to  get away from the person who is trying to remove string or fishing line from their legs or toes.  They are terrified of being too close.

Yes, they stink sometimes, but if they have access to deep enough water they will line up for a chance to have a good long wash.  We also stink if we don’t wash.

They are intelligent, loyal & friendly birds.  If you have been kind to them, they will remember you.  They move around a lot & have been seen all the way down in Victoria & as far as Papua New Guinea.

Probably the biggest misunderstanding I hear often is that they are an exotic species & should go back to Egypt.  They are in fact an Australian native bird.  Egypt has their own Ibis species.

Environment NSW are asking the community to report sightings of Ibis, especially those birds that are wing tagged or have a leg band.  They want to know the numbers of the tags or bands, how many Ibis there are & their behavior.

You can download a free Apple app here –

Or for Android here –

Or you can go directly to the website here –

The survey happens during Bird Week from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th October 2017.

Seen in Gough Whitlam Park 2-3 months ago. WIRES were contacted. Unfortunately Ibis often get their legs & toes entangled in string (even the string from discarded tea bags), fishing line, balloon cords & any kind of cord left in the parks or waterways. Imagine tying something really tight around your toe. You can’t get it off. It causes you horrendous pain for months until either you die from infection or your toe drops off — and you might still die from infection. This is a routine experience for Ibis & other birds, so please do not take or leave these kind of things in the park. TY

Click to enlarge.  Cartoon by Christopher Wilcox shared with thanks 🙂

Christopher Wilcox –

The yellow dots show what I believe are newly planted trees.  Good one Marrickville Council.

The yellow dots show what I believe are newly planted trees. Good one Marrickville Council.   The Illawarra Flame tree in the background is putting on quite a show.

I last wrote about Jack Shanahan Reserve in April 2014, just after the park reopened after an upgrade. See –

We ended up in Jack Shanahan Reserve this afternoon while enjoying a random bicycle ride around the area.  I am pleased to say that this park is looking great & was full of children & young adults. Being a skater’s park it is very popular.

Immediately apparent was the new trees. I counted 19 of them. Some might have been planted with the upgrade last year, but I cannot remember so many new trees & feel sure that I would have mentioned them in my post.

I wrote, “A number of good-sized Pin Oaks have been planted around the picnic kiosk & also at points along the path.   These trees continue what appears to be a theme in this park.  I was pleased to see that none of the mature trees on the hill have been removed. In 12-months when the grasses have grown & the trees are larger the differences will be more apparent.”

The new trees are Eucalypts & others, but not Pin oaks. They have been planted in the lawn area alongside the railway line. They already look good & very soon their canopy will block out the passing trains, plus provide shade & habitat for wildlife.

The native grasses have grown & filled out garden beds. It all looks lush & inviting – a park one would want to visit.

Unfortunately I saw young people throwing glass bottles at three Australian White Ibis who had come to inspect the barbeque. I am not a fan of signs, but I think Council could do well to install a sign here to tell the community that these birds are native & protected by law. It may help eliminate unnecessary cruelty to wildlife that have an equal right to be in the park as people do.  A sign may also help young people educate others who do the wrong thing.

This photo was taken in April 2014. Only one tree on the left.

This photo was taken in April 2014. Only one new tree on the left.

Same area today. There are definitely more trees.

Same area today. There are definitely more trees.

The garden beds were all planted with native grasses.  I think this is looking good.

The garden beds were all planted with native grasses. I think this is looking good. Plus there is another new tree indicated by a yellow dot.

About four-fifths of the canopy gone

About four-fifths of the canopy gone & every tree is the same.

A couple of weeks ago I drove down Carrington Road Marrickville South & noticed that the row of around 13 heritage Canary Island palm trees had been pineapple-pruned.  I was pretty sure this had been done to rid the Ibis from these trees.

I wrote to Marrickville Council & asked for reasons why they pineapple-pruned these heritage trees.  Their response included –

  • “Dead Frond Removal.  On several occasions dead fronds had fallen on cars & the road, removing these was a safety priority.”
  • Canopy Lifting because of a disease called Fusarium oxysporum. “Disease management is based solely on disease prevention.  The Australian White Ibis is identified as one of the major transmitters of Fusarium within Date Palms, as such reducing their use of these palms by removing horizontal branches for them to land on is a key way to combat the spread of the disease.  Councils Biodiversity officers where [sic] consulted with several months prior to the work being undertaken to address any concerns over White Ibis impacts. The trees where also monitored several weeks in advance of the pruning taking place to ensure the Ibis where [sic] not using them. White Ibis nesting season is between June to January – we delayed work, which we initially wanted to do in September due to several dangerous branch drops, to avoid disrupting the Ibis.”

I know for a fact that the Ibis live in these trees all year round & were already doing so when I moved to Marrickville in 1996.  Every night you could watch the Ibis return to sleep in these trees.

I wrote back to Council & asked for any academic or similar publication or weblink that discusses Australian White Ibis transmitting Fusarium in Canary Island palms.   Council’s response was to offer me a chat to talk, but did not provide any references.

Despite reading extensively on Fusarium, I found nothing that said birds, including Australian White Ibis, transmit it.   In fact, every article said that the spread of Fusarium is through pruning, stump grinding & transplanting & soil water.

Cutting implements are supposed to be sterilized between working on each palm tree & experts even suggest using a new chainsaw, lopper, pruning shear, handsaw for each palm.  Since chain saws are nearly impossible to sterilize, hand saws or clippers should be the only tools used to cut off palm fronds.”

“….. pruning should be restricted to removal of only dead or dying leaves. Severe pruning, such as “hurricane cuts” or “pineapple cuts,” weakens trees & increases the risk of pathogen transmission.”

Pruning should be viewed as a risk factor for Fusarium wilt disease transmission & not as a benefit to the Canary Island date palm. While this is an extraordinary measure, it is inexpensive disease prevention management for extremely valuable palms.  A mature Canary Island date palm that has died from Fusarium wilt is expensive to remove & expensive to replace. It is certainly more economical to prevent the disease than deal with the deadly consequences, especially if there are multiple Canary Island date palms in the landscape.”

“Extreme pruning causes loss of important nutrients. When trees and palms have leaves that are beginning to die, certain nutrients (including potassium) are put into a soluble form & pulled out of the older foliage and usually sent to new growth. Extreme pruning done on a regular basis has been shown to be fatal to certain species of palm owing to nutrient deficiencies. Palm fronds should not be removed if they still have green on the leaflets or midrib. They are still manufacturing and supplying food to the palm.

Another problem with pineapple pruning is that the new fronds are soft & susceptible to wind damage, so more falling fronds.  Old dead fronds hang on the palm for a very long time.  Council could have chosen to prune these dead fronds long before they started becoming a safety issue.

I also contacted the Veteran Tree Group Australia.  They said, “We are not aware of any studies or publications that link Ibis as a vector for the spread of Fusarium.  Pineapple pruning or any severe pruning involving the removal of live foliage is not an option that we would recommend in management of mature or veteran Canary Island Date Palms; this can weaken the palms and exposes them to a greater risk of infection.  Pruning of mature palms should ideally be limited to removal of only dead or fractured fronds for the purposes of risk mitigation in public areas.

A shadow of their former glory

A shadow of their former glory.  There are about 13 palms along this side of Carrington Road.

Compare with the palms at Laxton Reserve Dulwich Hill

Compare with the palms at Laxton Reserve Dulwich Hill






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