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Call for south coast landholders to support extended starlings surveillance effort

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has extended its seasonal surveillance for European starlings, following an increase in numbers of the pest bird found along the State’s south coast.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is urging residents and travellers, particularly along the State’s south coast, to keep an eye out for starlings and report and unusual black birds.

With the starling considered one of the world’s worst bird pests, the department is urging landholders and local communities to be vigilant in watching for pest birds and report any unusual findings.

Department invasive species manager Richard Watkins said 11 pest birds had been trapped at various locations between Hopetoun and Condingup during spring.

The department’s seasonal surveillance period normally finishes at the end of October but due to the increase in bird numbers trapped, the program will continue to ensure there is not a breeding population present.

“The department has established an incident team to extend trapping and surveillance activities which includes additional staff on the ground,” Mr Watkins said.

“We are also calling on residents and travellers to work closely with us to look out for and report any unusual black birds.

“The earlier a pest is detected, the more successful control will be.”

The department’s surveillance program has been in place for a number of years to prevent breeding populations establishing in WA.

Starlings, which are introduced into Australia, are small to medium-sized birds which have distinctive glossy black feathers with an iridescent green and purple sheen. From a distance they can look plain black.

Other than willy wagtails, starlings are one of the few birds that will stand on the back of livestock.

Young birds, seen mainly in spring and summer, are a mouse-brown colour. When they moult to adult plumage in autumn they have a patchy brown and black appearance, often with some pale spotting.

Starlings are aggressive, social birds and can form very large flocks that move, feed and roost together.

Suspects sightings of starlings can be reported using the department’s MyPestGuide Reporter app or to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080 or email [email protected].

The MyPestGuide Reporter app can be downloaded free from either the Google Play store or the App Store.