The rain has a surprising effect on our bin chickens

Опубликованно 16.05.2018 01:39

The rain has a surprising effect on our bin chickens

The Aussie birds that we love to hate return to their natural foraging habits in wet weather looking for worms instead of scraps in our bins.

New research has found people will see fewer ibis during wet weather as the bin chickens switch to their paleo diets and look for parks abundant with critters.

Wild weather with heavy rain, flooding and snow has caused chaos across parts of the country and is set to continue today.

The special delivery straight from Antarctica has already seen rain batter Tasmania while NSW and Victoria have copped snowfalls and freezing conditions.

Researchers studying ibis habits in Sydney parks found numbers dropped dramatically in one park next to Central Station during the rain, despite the high amount of fast food to be found in bins in the park.

Ibis pick through bags of rubbish in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney city. Picture: Toby Zerna

On the other hand, the amount of worms eaten by ibis — which bird lovers passionately defended when they weren’t awarded Bird of the Year — during wet weather was four times higher than in dry conditions.

During dry weather, Australian white ibis congregate in Belmore Park at a density 10 times higher than other parks, including Hyde Park and the Domain — the central parks in Sydney.

But what the researchers from the University of Wollongong, Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and the Australian Museum discovered was they were moving to other parks where worm numbers were much higher when it was wet.

Dr Richard Major, principal research scientist in Terrestrial Vertebrates at the Australian Museum, said his “Eureka moment” was when he emptied his home brew steriliser on his lawn and saw a handful of earthworms wriggling out of the soil.

That’s when University of Wollongong honours student, Matt Chard, stepped in and used his mentor’s Eureka moment to take their ibis studies further.

Ibis move to parks in wet weather where there’s more worms for them to find. Picture: Peter Kelly

He said he dosed parts of the city parks with the steriliser, that appeared to be a new-found skin-irritant for worms, both before and after rainfall.

“Not only did it demonstrate that worms were 80 per cent more abundant after rain than in dry periods, but we found six times as many worms in the Domain as in Belmore Park,” he said.

Researchers suspect the usually high numbers of ibis in Belmore Park have depleted its worm population.

When the rain comes, many birds use their foraging memory to spread out from places like Belmore Park and head for “greener pastures”.

“Humans have complex interactions with wildlife and it is accentuated in landscapes where human impacts are high,” Mr Chard said.

“All worms were counted, rinsed in water and returned to irritant-free ground where they soon reburied — unless they were discovered by an opportunistic ibis.”

A ‘sacred ibis’ in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Sydney’s sacred ibis population is also on the increase. Picture: John Appleyard

Категория: Технологии