June Meeting

Wed 13 June 2018 07:30pm

Paul Fennell - Highlights and Lowlights of the most recent 2016-2017 ABR
Richard Beggs - War against the Noisy Miner: the casus belli may not be as clear as we thought

The first speaker will be Paul Fennell, editor of COG’s Annual Bird Report (ABR). Paul will give a short presentation on the Highlights and Lowlights of the most recent 2016-2017 ABR.

The main presentation will be by Richard Beggs, a Ph D student at the ANU’s Fenner School for Environment and Society, entitled “War against the Noisy Miner: the casus belli may not be as clear as we thought.”

1878: “gallant little birds” (Wagga Wagga Advertiser)

1915: “the carol of the magpie is eclipsed by the song of the miner” (Emu)

2004: “the mafia of the bird world” (ABCRN)

2015: “I hate those f***ing things” (RedditAustralia)

The public image of the Noisy Miner has taken a severe beating in recent decades on account of its violent tendencies towards smaller woodland birds, many of them of conservation concern. Yet it is the loss, fragmentation and degradation of native habitat caused by another invasive species that has fostered both the success of the Noisy Miner and the demise of small woodland birds. Nonetheless, the Department of the Environment issued a fatwa against Noisy Miners in 2014, opening the way for culling as a management response. In anticipation of a jihad against the species, there was jubilation amongst ecologists, and bird lovers celebrated, eager for that perfect experience of diversity and abundance during their Sunday outings before sitting down to their dinner of roast bird.

We do not have clear empirical evidence that removing Noisy Miners from remnant patches of native woodland benefits small woodland birds. Richard’s project aims to fill that gap. He monitored artificial nest predation rates, foraging by small woodland birds and aggressive interactions of all species before and after an experimental cull of Noisy Miners. He found that culling at a patch scale had little impact on Noisy Miner population due to immediate recolonisation.

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