Port Stephens ibis population receives a health kick

A ‘bin chicken’ eating garbage in the city and ibis ‘back to basics’ in Lemon tree Passage.


ONCE considered a sacred bird by the ancient Egyptians the ibis is now something of a pest.

You see, it was drought that sent them from their natural habitat of the inland marshes to take up residence in coastal areas and it looks like they are here to stay.

Sydney alone boasts some 10,000 of these avian vagrants.

They have even been given unflattering names such as ‘bin chicken’, “tip turkeys’ and ‘picnic pirates.’

This is because they are bold birds which pester picnickers for food and rummage through garbage bins.

They have, however gained something of a cult following amongst Australia’s youth culture with it becoming fashionable to have images of the bird tattooed on wrists or to spray ibis graffiti on city walls near the garbage bins behind restaurants.

But, dear reader, our local white ibis are currently on something of a health kick and there is a reason for this.

The wet summer has produced a phenomenal growth in grass.

Indeed our Council mowing teams just can’t keep up with their rotational maintenance program of parks and reserves.

Apart from phone calls about potholes created by the incessant rain, Port Stephens Council has been inundated with complaints about the long grass.

You just won’t find the white ibis (Investikiorinis molucca) annoying people in Henderson Park at Lemon Tree Passage these days.

They aren’t even fighting the pelicans and seagulls for scraps of food and discarded chips.

You see, they have taken up station in the large grassy park near the sewerage pump house and are snaffling the grubs and worms which have been forced to the surface by the rains.

If nothing else, this change back to their natural diet can only help their health.

We’ll just have to see what happens when the dry weather returns.

Meanwhile enjoy your ibis free picnics while you can.



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