Rural

Look out for pest birds in South West

The sparrow is one bird not yet established in Western Australia, that can become an agricultural or urban pest. Image provided by WA DPIRD

The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is calling on the South West community to help keep destructive pest birds out of the region.

Manjimup-based biosecurity officer Julie Webber said public reports of serious bird pests such as the European tree sparrow and house sparrow played a vital role in protecting the State’s agricultural industries and environment.

The ‘call to action’ follows unconfirmed sightings of a possible sparrow in West Arthur in  summer 2016-17 and more recently in Boyup Brook. The department was also responding to the escape of 20 Indian ringneck parakeets in Geraldton.

“Thanks to regular reports from the public of one-off sightings, we have been able to act quickly and remove pest birds, preventing them from establishing in the wild,” Ms Webber said.

“Sparrows are just one of a number of declared pests which have established in other Australian states except Western Australia, thanks to the eager eyes of our community members.”

Ms Webber said pest birds such as sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, house crows, the Indian myna and Indian ringneck parakeets posed a significant threat, as they were known to damage a range of crops and compete with native birds.

“Often, non-native species are found near sea ports, after arriving on ships, and will usually occupy areas where people live,” she said.

“We are keen for everyone to stay alert. Sparrows are easily identified by the way they hop around and would be attracted to backyard bird feeding sites, cafes, aviaries and grain storage facilities.

“They are brown or dark grey with a streaked back and a wedge-shaped beak, between 11 and 16 centimeters long and look similar to some finches, but are slightly chubbier.”

For more information on sparrows and other pest birds, visit the department’s website.

Any unusual birds seen in the wild should be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service (PADIS) on 9368 3080 or by using MyPestGuide app now available on the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store.

Source: WA DPIRD

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