BAD RAP: Mick Curran in a swarm of “tip turkeys” at Bonnick Rd.
BAD RAP: Mick Curran in a swarm of “tip turkeys” at Bonnick Rd. Craig Warhurst

Feathered rats deserve a break

THEY'RE the birds we love to hate.

"Tip turkeys", "sandwich snatchers", "dump duck" or "feathered rats" - the poor old Australian white ibis gets a bad rap.

If you've ever seen an ibis pulling rubbish out of a smelly public bin, or swashbuckling a meal from a distracted picnicker, you can understand why.

But the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife says it's not fair.

Apparently, there are some reasons to love the birds.

Well, at least four of them.

1 . Ibises make great gardeners:

The white ibises like to eat up beetle larvae. This helps protect your garden, as beetle larvae eat the roots of grasses and other plants.

The ibis' long beak is great for aerating the soil.

2 . Ibises fight locust plagues:

The white ibis, while unable to stop a big plague, can stuff its belly full of locust nymphs before they have formed into flying adults.

3. Ibises are true romantics:

During breeding season, males will congregate on a tree and claim a branch as their stage. When a female comes close, they will all start bowing deeply to her to try to impress her.

4 . Ibises have nowhere else to go:

It might seem like ibis numbers are increasing in our cities. In their natural, rural habitats, however, ibises are facing big declines.

Water being diverted away from wetlands and into farming, combined with severe droughts, has left these birds with no alternative but to adapt to a new way of life in our towns and cities.

"So the next time you see a white ibis strolling across a lawn, be thankful," Susanna Bradshaw, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife said.

"They are not only helping with the gardening, they are also fighting plagues and looking after their families."

Gympie Times


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