Flocking budgies make for quite a sight in Red Centre

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Budgies in the Outback enthralls grey nomads
Budgies fly together to try to deter predators. PIC: Angus Newey, Alice Springs Desert Park / ABC

The wettest summer in a decade has filled water courses in Central Australia, replenishing native grasses … and attracting huge numbers of budgerigars.

Grey nomads are among those who have been blown away by the sight of iconic green and gold budgerigars flocking around Red Centre waterholes.

Tugan Woodley, specialist bird keeper at the Alice Springs Desert Park, told the ABC the conditions had been perfect for budgies.

“It’s ticking all the boxes; you’ve got water, you’ve got shelter, you’ve got food, and they’re going to breed,” he said. “And they’ll do it more than once … they’ve just followed the rain in big numbers back to Central Australia.”

Mr Woodley said seeing flocks of 5,000 birds was an experience he would never forget, and said the noise of the incoming flocks was breathtaking.

“The noise, you just you need to experience it, it’s really hard to describe,” he told the ABC. “It’s just incredible to hear.”

Mr Woodley said the explosion in budgie numbers was also attracting larger bird species such as the Brown Falcon.

“You’ve got the all the birds coming in just to have a drink and then that naturally brings in predators as well,” he said. “It’s awesome to see the predators dive bombing through thousands of budgies and trying to get some food.”

Mr Woodley said the tiny bird flocked together to try to evade predators, and were working on theory that there was safety in numbers.

“A lot of people will compare it to a large school of fish,” he told the ABC. “The large school of fish looks like one entity in the way that they move and coordinate their movements to escape predators … the budgies are the same.”

While large gatherings of birds are appreciated by grey nomads and other tourists, they are not always welcomed by all.

Late last year, Richmond Shire commissioned the use of a helicopter to chase a large flock of birds out of the Outback Queensland town, after they had reportedly damaged trees and powerlines.

The local ranger also fired a gas gun in a bid to steer the cockatoos, galahs and corellas into nearby bushland and away from the town’s infrastructure.

Richmond Shire Mayor John Wharton said the birds infiltrated the town every four or five years.

“The trees will die eventually if we let them go, so we’ve got to try and get rid of them,” Councillor Wharton said at the time. “We’ve got to protect our assets, it costs a lot of money to replace a lot of these assets, especially important shade trees around the school and around the caravan park.”

  • Have you ever been ‘blown away’ by the sight and sound of flocking birds in the Outback? Comment below.
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3 Responses to Flocking budgies make for quite a sight in Red Centre

  1. The original settlers and farmers were aware of the problems of native birds and animals so they built “ïnfrastructure” to withstand Ättacks” by creatures merely attempting to re-colonise their Country.

  2. They said it costs heaps to hire helicopters, etc., to get rid of the birds from the town. It’s a seasonal thing so a $20 sack of birdseed distributed miles away in their flight path will get rid of them. Topped up every week until they leave, it would only cost a few $100s.

  3. Plant more and more trees.Richmond Shire.

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