Corella sanctuary could draw pest birds away from townships, councillor says

In the meantime, Murray Bridge working party chair Karen Eckermann says, we may simply have to live with them.

Corellas will only be lured away from Murray Bridge’s riverfront if an even more inviting spot is created somewhere else, the chair of a working party says.

Murray Bridge Councillor Karen Eckermann said she remained hopeful about a plan to establish “sacrificial sites” outside the city limits, at places like Monteith or Mobilong.

Such sites would be a little slice of heaven for little corellas, with all the open grassland, tall trees and fresh water they could want.

Experts advised that if the corellas were happy there, they could be lured away from more populated places.

The working party was now negotiating with the owner of a suitable site, Cr Eckermann said.

“This is a first in South Australia,” she said.

“Residents should be proud that we are leading the way with a long-term strategy.

“Nobody is certain that it will work, and it is a long-term goal which doesn’t help much right now, but I am confident it is worth pursuing.”

In the meantime, she conceded, it would be almost impossible to keep corellas from invading Sturt Reserve and other riverfront spaces.

“The working party is not able to alter a natural phenomenon like abundant little corellas visiting our rural city, no more than we can control the carp in the river or kangaroos on farmlands,” she said.

“For now, humans need to adapt to little corellas visiting each year, with their screeching and tree pruning and making a mess.

“It is as natural and uncontrollable as the weather.”

Every method previously tried to control the destructive birds had failed.

Culls were difficult to carry out because of the strict rules around gun use in townships and the “serious reluctance” of professional shooters to get involved; and taking pot-shots at individuals in a flock of thousands of birds “barely makes an impact”.

The idea of scaring off “scout” birds before the main flock arrived had also been de-bunked in recent years, she said.

“Early arriving birds are just that – birds turning up first,” she said.

“You may scare the birds somewhat with a shot, but they will simply move along the riverbank to annoy another section of the community.”

Deterrents such as loud noises or vibrations could scare corellas away “briefly” and might be useful for private residents, she said, but would be useless in a public park, where nobody would want a cannon going off every few minutes, day and night.

As well as the sacrificial sites plan, the working party was now seeking ideas that might not yet have been tried in South Australia, Cr Eckermann said.

In the meantime, she thanked the community for its patience as she and the other working party members – representatives of the council, Department of Environment and Water, Swanport Aquatic Centre and Murray Bridge’s lawn tennis and golf clubs – kept trying.

Photo: Peri Strathearn.