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Cocky riot takes its toll

Friday, 13th March, 2015

Sleep-deprived residents (from left) Tracey Hurley, Fay Attard and Adelaide DeMain are pleading with Council to take action against a bird invasion that’s left them feeling helpless. PICTURE: Erica Visser Sleep-deprived residents (from left) Tracey Hurley, Fay Attard and Adelaide DeMain are pleading with Council to take action against a bird invasion that’s left them feeling helpless. PICTURE: Erica Visser

By Erica Visser

A cockatoo invasion has ruffled the feathers of the residents of Railway Parade who are now begging City Council to take action. 

Thousands of the birds are flocking to the area behind Westside Plaza and things aren’t much better in nearby Rowe Street.

People say they can no longer sit outside or hang out their washing due to the vast amount of droppings and feathers, and they have to close their windows at all times to block out the sound of shrill screeching. 

A constant build up of leaves and branches fill the street from the birds sitting on the gum trees every night.

“You could just about skate along the laneway there’s so many leaves,” said Fay Attard, who moved to the otherwise-tranquil area a decade ago.

“There wouldn’t be one night in the last eight months we haven’t been woken up. People are getting to the end of their tether.”

Mrs Attard’s neighbour, Tracey Hurley, said she could no longer have her young grandchildren stay the night because of the noise. 

“They can start up any time from 3.30am and can go all day,” Mrs Hurley said.

“A couples of months of this I could accept but they’re just not leaving. When you wake up crying because you can’t take it anymore and your grandkids can’t even come over it really starts to take its toll.”

Adelaide DeMain, who lives in Rowe Street with her husband Geoff, has made several requests for Council and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to step up.

The latest was a letter to Council’s General Manager Therese Manns this week.  

“I’ve lived here for 32 years and it’s never been quite as bad as what it is now. Is this a town for the birds or a town for the people?” Mrs DeMain said. 

“People won’t buy and live here anymore because of the nuisance. Everything’s covered in poo and feathers.

“Unhappy people don’t make happy ratepayers. We just want our sleep and our lives back.”

Mrs DeMain hoped that gas guns could be used to scare the birds but said NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service had expressed concern about the machines disturbing residents.

“I’m not saying pop the gas guns on at night, but I’m sure the noise they make wouldn’t compare to what we’re hearing now,” she said.

Mrs Hurley has resorted to clanging saucepans together to scare the pesky animals away from her pool.

“I have to overdose the pool with chlorine just so the kids can go for a swim. I don’t even bother turning my fountain on anymore because they flock to running water.”

Across the city, the Tennis Club had also experienced problems with cockies this year. The unwelcome spectators ripped up the synthetic “supergrass”, dug holes in the joins of the courts and refused to move from the fences and nets. 

But Broken Hill Tennis Association president Peter Keenan said yesterday that the birds had finally left on their own accord.

“I’m very glad to see the back of them,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, which incorporates the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said it wasn’t the service’s role to take care of people’s personal issues with wildlife, “just like if a magpie is swooping.”

She instead provided the following statement: 

“Like lots of wildlife, the best course of action is to try to prevent them being attracted in the first place. Here are some tips on what property owners can do in this regard:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/askenvironmentlineapp/question.aspx?qaId=ael-83.”

She added that because cockatoos are considered a pastoral pest, you do not need a licence to harm them for “damage mitigation, but there are other legal obligations if taking this course of action.”

The service has also been in talks with Westside Plaza about installing an “eagle kite” to try and deter the birds.

When the BDT asked Council for a comment on the matter it referred us back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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