Winemakers in California are studying a novel way to reduce the toll rodenticides take on birds of prey – using the birds themselves to control mice and rat plagues. Instead of laying down poisons, vineyard owners are encouraging an enemy of rodents, the barn owl, to establish territories among the vines. In turn, it is hoped the hungry owls will eat into the rodent problem. The study is of interest to Tasmania where the growing use of ever-powerful rodenticides is having … [Read more...] about Owls a vintage solution to rodent plague
On The Wing
A column for all seasons
Everyone has a story about birds. They are all about us and are our contact point with nature. The birds I see are usually in an urban environment and so I concentrate on these in my writing. I don’t pretend to be an expert but birds of the city and suburb are also the ones that most people identify with, the species you do not need a compass and binoculars to seek out. A scarlet robin singing in a garden is just as exciting as a swift parrot in an ancient forest and is worth just as many words in my On the Wing writings.
December 2021 marks a tragic anniversary in the bird world. A century ago nature-lovers were given hope that one of the most beautiful birds known to Australia was flying free and had not succumbed to extinction as had been feared. Although the paradise parrot had vanished from view about 20 years previously, a birdwatcher reported in December 1921 seeing a pair of the birds in cattle country inland of the south-eastern Queensland coast. What’s more, Cyril Jerrard followed … [Read more...] about A fatal gift of beauty
Eleven of the 12 Tasmanian birds found nowhere else on earth can be spotted with ease at the Waterworks Reserve just a few kilometres from the Hobart CBD. It was an interesting talking point when I was asked to discuss the avian treasures of the reserve on the ABC Radio Drive program recently. The birds, though, were not the only focus. The presenter of the program, Kylie Baxter, also invited listeners to describe why the reserve in general was important to them. Kylie was … [Read more...] about A special place in our hearts
High in the sky, a white goshawk battled wild winds and the attention of an angry kelp gull. Flying against the backdrop of a snowy kunanyi/ Mt Wellington, the all-white goshawk might have believed the peak offered it camouflage as it patrolled the airways. But the raptor was mistaken. Its fluttering wings revealed its menacing presence to watching eyes Ironically, the mountain should have been free of snow in the last few weeks of spring but an unseasonal blizzard brought … [Read more...] about Winds of change embrace the white goshawk
The godwits that arrive in Tasmania and New Zealand each summer are known for their epic flights that span the far north and south of the globe. One plucky godwit, however, has stretched the limits of endurance by finally arriving in New Zealand after being forced to make a dramatic U-turn back to Alaska after 33 hours of non-stop flight. All was going well for the male bar-tailed godwit after he took off from tidal flats in Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim delta on 11 September. … [Read more...] about Godwit clocks up the air miles