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Keep eyes peeled for unusual birds at ports

The public are reminded to report sightings of unusual birds across regional ports, following the removal of a Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) at Cape Lambert Port in the Pilbara.

Residents living near sea ports are asked to keep an eye out for Eurasian magpies or other unusual birds.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development biosecurity officer Lara Martin said the Eurasian magpie was a declared bird not present in Western Australia.

“Eurasian magpies are omnivorous, feeding on insects, other birds’ eggs and chicks, grain and other vegetable matter,” Ms Martin said.

“They have the potential to establish, spread and adversely impact on agriculture and the environment in WA.

“It is important we take efforts to ensure these birds do not establish in Australia.”

Ms Martin said effective removal of declared birds involved extensive surveillance and planning by department officers, who also relied on co-operation from the community.

“The bird was originally spotted last year at the port facility, then re-appeared onsite in late August 2017 when it was reported by Rio Tinto staff who had been assisting with ongoing surveillance and observations at the port,” she said.

“Rio Tinto environmental officers and staff have provided important support, particularly through their surveillance efforts.”

Ms Martin said the bird had most likely arrived on an overseas ship at the port.

While surveillance had indicated that there was just one bird in this case, it is a reminder for people to remain vigilant for unusual birds which could become established pests in Western Australia.

“We remind those working and living at or near ports to help protect our agricultural industries and our environment from exotic species by reporting any unusual birds,” Ms Martin said.

The Eurasian magpie is black and white, with a long graduated tail, the head and upper body to the breast is black. The belly and shoulder feathers are white, the upper wings are black glossed with iridescent metallic blue-green or purple. The body size is smaller than the Australian magpie but larger than the mudlark. A distinguishing feature is its long tail, which accounts for around half its body length.

Any sightings of Eurasian magpies or other unusual birds in the area should be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080.