Our village is currently besieged by an invasion of Little Corellas. (They are hardly little but they are smaller than their close relatives, cockatoos and galahs.) I exaggerate not when I say they number in the hundreds. They can strip a tree of its leaves or denude a sports ground in no time. Originally a desert bird, as a result of droughts, loss of habitat and making connections with liberated caged birds, they have migrated to cereal farms, cities and the coast for their rich pickings.
Glorying in birds is in the DNA of the denizens of Chez Jacquier and we understand the environmental payback at work here. However their unrelenting high-pitched screeching from early morning until late at night has slipped into the realms of cruel and unusual punishment. If Hitchcock had used them in The Birds, audiences would have run screaming into the street before the end of the first reel.
Well, just move them on, I barely hear you cry above the cacophony. Unfortunately every community in Australia has tried that, with little success beyond the immediate term. Corellas are highly intelligent and have a very sophisticated communication system, so they quickly realise that whatever noise you create or visual deterrent you manufacture it is entirely harmless and can be routinely ignored. Drones have been tried but they are too smart for them. Ultimately, limited culling (i.e. blasting the little buggers with shotguns) becomes part of the strategy but again has little long-term effect and is of limited value in towns and suburbs for safety reasons. (Indeed, they have been seen to immediately roost on suburban roofs at the first shot.)
In fairness (not that they deserve that level of consideration), they are yet to attack our garden or our trees (unlike the wantonly destructive galahs) and we only pounce when they start to ground feed on our peripheries. Up until now, vigorous bashing together of baking trays and wading into the flock accords us some relief close to home. However the chorus from hell from the middle distance ruins any hope of a peaceful sojourn outdoors in the early mornings and evenings, which is, after all, one of the great rewards for diligent gardeners.
I am reliably informed that they will move on at the end of March, which is about as comforting as being told that’s when your jailer will cease to suspend you by your ankles. Until then, it is difficult not to contemplate how a certain virus that’s doing the rounds might be introduced to their number. Corella-19 may be just the thing we need to deal with those flocking corellas.