Apostlebirds by the dozen
Apostlebirds are not all that common in South Australia. In fact, they are confined to a few locations in the mid-north of the state plus one site I know of near the eastern border south of Renmark. In parts of New South Wales, however, they are widespread and common in many places. They are also very confiding birds and will happily share their little patch of bushland – if you share some of your morning or afternoon tea.
On our recent visit to the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo I was surprised at just how common they actually are, but then there is plenty of food for the taking, both in the animal enclosures and in the picnic areas where human food scraps are in abundance. It is not surprising then that I was able to get at least several good photos during our visit.
Apostlebirds are not the most photogenic birds found in Australia, being only dull grey with some black patches. What they lack in colour they certainly make up for with their gregarious nature. Because of this nature they certainly are one of my favourites and I always look out for them wherever we travel.
We used to have a wonderful variety of birds in our garden – until the apostle birds moved in. They are very aggressive and attack and have chased off many of the other birds. They also attack me and swoop and peck at my head when I am feeding my chooks. No they do not have a nest anywhere near the chook yard – it is out in the open. They are after any scraps I might have.
They regularly knock other birds’ babies out of the nests. Add to this the fact that they constantly foul the water in the bird baths – and won’t let other birds access them anyway – and I am sorry but I HATE these birds!!! I have heard others comment on the same things and an old man came to visit and said “Oh you have those bikie birds too”. He explained the nick name by saying they were violent thugs that hung around in groups. So it’s not just me that has noticed their behaviour.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with this species, Sharyn. I now have a different appreciation of this species. Because they are quite rare here in South Australia we do not yet have the problems you describe, but can fully understand your frustrations.
While camping at Lake Hattah (south of Mildura, Victoria) back in the 1990s we were amused how they would jump up on the table and start eating food from our plates if we didn’t keep a sharp lookout. I never realised that they could not only be cheeky but downright bullies.
My sister-in-law is the cook at Peterborough Hospital in mid-north of South Australia and the family of Apostlebirds living in the garden will often come right into the rooms of patients when the doors are open on to the veranda.
Thanks for your comments.
[…] picnic table trying to have a share in our food. The photo above shows several birds I saw in the Western Plains Zoo car park in Dubbo, NSW, just a short distance from where several picnicking groups had […]
Looked them up and found your post. Love these little creatures. We seen them first at Dubbo zoo and they are so friendly and full of character. I have my own parrot at home and of course fell in love with these birds as I could see there cheeky playful personality and how they are not scared of humans at all. Would make a great companion pet if it was allowed.
Thanks for your comments. I certainly love seeing Apostlebirds but sadly I have to travel quite some distance to see them. I can also remember the Apostlebirds in the Dubbo Zoo on my last visit there. They do have a bad habit though. When we were staying a cabin in the Cobar caravan park some years ago, my wife and I sat outside to eat our dinner because it was a lovely evening to do that. Within seconds, several Apostlebirds hopped up on the table and tried to avail themselves of our food. Cheeky.
As for keeping Apostlebirds as pets, most Australian native birds cannot be kept as a pet without a permit to do so. Very common species like some of our parrots (eg budgies, Galahs etc) do not need a permit. Lists of such birds and how to get permits can be found on the websites of the relevant state Departments for the Environment – the rules could differ from state to state. If you could get a permit, getting hold of Apostlebirds from birding dealers may be a bigger problem. Apart of zoos, I doubt if there are any in private collections or in pets shops.
I agree with Sharon about these birds and cannot think of one redeeming feature. They are aggressive thugs and are worse than magpies or plovers. At least when those birds attack you it will be mating season, protecting their babies. These thugs attack at any time. We also used to have a variety of birds until these thugs along with the noisey minors moved in. At least the kookaburras still visit for their 5 star beef mince
Yes,they are aggressive! I concur with all the above statements.
Mine came last year 1st time ,3- now 5! If you attempt to “shew” them away they will swarm at you (go for head! They don’t come every day thank goodness!
I live in Westlake,Brisbane approx 20min to CBD.
I am across the road from a golf course and the River is a block behind me….It explains 100’s of Cockatoo,Cockatiel etc at dusk and bats…the crows are awful…but these things are thugs!!
So,there you go,suburban Brisbane ✅