While many people enjoy seeing little corellas, large flocks in urban and rural areas cause considerable problems in the warmer months. The most common issues are damage to trees (defoliation), taking grain, and disturbing residents with loud vocalisations. Managing little corellas can be difficult and significant public contention exists regarding their management. Many local councils with a long history of problems with little corellas have invested significant resources into developing strategies for their management. Extensive experience and knowledge of little corellas exists within these agencies and in local communities, but little information sharing or coordination of activities occurs among groups.
No “silver-bullet” or “quick solution” exists to fix the issues caused by little corellas. Our aim was to identify steps, based on research and consultation, to help reduce issues with little corellas. Our focus was on “problem sites” in urban and peri-urban areas, including townships, across South Australia. We used a mixed-methods approach, including:
- A social survey (1,270 respondents)
- Nine community workshops
- Field surveys at 144 little corella sites identified by project participants
- Development of models for little corella habitat suitability and land use preferences
- Synthesis of data into Mental Modeler software, a tool that can be used to understand and educate about little corella management
What did we find?
Most project participants agreed that some form of little corella management is needed. Few project participants actually disliked little corellas, but many disliked their destructive behaviours (particularly to trees) and their noise.
Contention exists about the types of management that are effective and desirable. While some people have extensive experience managing little corellas, many members of the community were unaware of the complexities of little corella management, of the actions taking place, or of the costs involved.
Our workshops enabled participants to understand the complexity of little corella management and how costly management could be. We found considerable variation in the terms used to describe the issues the birds cause and explain management actions. During the workshops, we recognised some convergence of opinion, with participants understanding the need for management of little corellas and accepting various management strategies. For example, some workshop participants became aware and accepting of the utility of particular management measures (e.g. habitat modification and lethal deterrents).
We recognised that the practicalities of little corella management in South Australia have been hindered by a lack of organised sharing of resources and knowledge, or coordination of responses among land managers and agencies, and the efforts of some groups and individuals have been undermined by the actions or inaction of others.
The public identified over 2,300 little corella sites across South Australia. Our habitat modelling showed that:
- River red gums, irrigated green space and major creeks were important habitat
- In the Adelaide and the Mount Lofty Ranges area, irrigated green spaces and major creeks were important resources
- Little corellas avoid bushland areas
An analysis of land use at little corella sites indicated that recreational, agricultural and residential areas were good predictors of little corella distribution. This modelling was reinforced by field surveys at 144 sites. The sites where little corellas were reported typically had extensive irrigated exotic lawn areas, freely available water, open habitat (low tree density), very few shrubs and low site nativeness.
What’s in the report?
The report includes the results of our research as well as many practical actions which should help to reduce issues with little corellas. It also includes our recommendations to shift the focus from short-term actions such as culling (a temporary solution only) to taking steps to modify the landscape to make it less attractive to the birds. This long-term approach will reduce the likelihood of large flocks forming and the birds creating issues for people.
The report contains three case studies which are included to illustrate how the project’s recommended actions could be applied to reduce the issues in real life situations. Other sections of the report provide advice about:
- Creating barriers to roosting and feeding resources
- Creating barriers to water resources
- Identifying and creating ‘sacrificial sites’ for little corellas
- The use of Mental Modeler to understand and educate about the management of little corellas (e.g. understanding different strategies, scenarios and trade-offs in management)
The report outlines how land managers can be proactive and reduce reliance on reactionary, isolated and inefficient controls which have seen limited success. We recommend an integrated management approach (involving multiple strategies and stakeholders), including long-, medium- and short-term actions that consider both environmental and social factors. Importantly, it is necessary to focus on long-term actions first, as these actions are key to reducing issues at little corella problem sites. Medium- and short-term actions may then be used to alleviate issues while long-term plans are actioned.
- Long-term actions (10+ year timeframe) include: reduce availability of food and water resources; habitat modification; threat abatement/proactive management; development of a management planning template; further research (see report for details)
- Medium-term actions (2-9 year timeframe) include: establish an annual abundant bird species forum to facilitate discussion among groups/managers; increase public information and education about little corella management; sacrificial sites
- Short-term actions (annual timeframe) to alleviate issues at problem sites include: strategic disruptive activities
Within the report we make recommendations for a new Little Corella Management Plan for South Australia. We also recommend that, while local government should continue to make an important contribution to the management of little corellas, the responsibilities for implementing actions should be shared across those land managers and agencies who manage the landscape surrounding problem sites. Increased support is already evident through the collaboration of state government, the LGA, universities, and local communities on the Little Corellas project. Further opportunities exist to collaborate with NRM Boards and other organisations.
A final thank you
This project has allowed us to learn and share a great deal of new information about the management of little corellas in South Australia. We thank everyone who contributed to our work, and particularly the members of the South Australian community who contributed their time, completing surveys and sharing information during our workshops. We also thank partner organisations for sharing their knowledge and expertise of little corella management. We hope that this information will help to improve the management of little corellas in South Australia.
Further information and involvement
- Full report: to download the report please click here (7.4 MB PDF file – it may take a little while to download)
- Read more about little corellas (click here)
- Read the report from our Cat Tracker project (click here)
- More Discovery Circle projects: get involved! See other Discovery Circle projects on our homepage and sign up for our eNewsletter