Lunch snatching birds at Lane Cove National Park

Long-necked Tortoises, Lane Cove River

Long-necked Turtles, Lane Cove River

As I write this we are in Sydney visiting our son and his family. We enjoy visiting him because it is a precious time of blessing as we spend time with our two grandchildren, ages eight and five. It is always great to see them growing and developing. During our times here in Sydney we have limited opportunities to go birding, so any free time we have is really appreciated. On this particular trip, we have visited Lane Cove National Park on several occasions, both times for lunch. This national park is only about ten minutes away by car, depending on the volume of traffic and time of day.

On a recent visit, we set up our folding chairs in a shady spot with a good view of the river. We placed our picnic lunch on the side table of our chairs. Before we could take a bite I observed two Long-necked Turtles sunning themselves on a log protruding from the water (see photo above). I handed my binoculars to my wife so that she could have a closer look at them.

That was when we were robbed!

A cheeky Laughing Kookaburra swooped down from a nearby branch. It snatched a part of my wife’s sandwich and flew off with it. As it dropped the sandwich makings on the grass nearby, another kookaburra flew down to share in this ill-gotten booty. Not long after this, as they were squabbling over their prize, a Noisy Miner joined in the fun. Noisy Miners are one of our native honeyeater species; they can be quite aggressive towards smaller birds and they are obviously quite at home matching it with the much larger kookaburras.

Laughing Kookaburras enjoying our lunch

Laughing Kookaburras enjoying our lunch

My wife was incensed. She had lost a portion of her lunch to a thieving bird. Later, she read a small plaque on one of the park picnic tables. In fact, all tables have copies of the same message: “Visitors are asked not to feed the birds and animals” or words to that effect. Perhaps the rangers should also put up signs instructing the local wildlife not to snatch human food.

Naturally, we guarded the rest of our lunch very carefully. No sense in losing any more of it. A few minutes later, two Brush-turkeys came mooching around. They looked as if they also wanted a handout. In fact, I held out my empty palm towards one of them and it approached to within a few centimetres of my hand. It left disappointed.

Please do not feed the birds

I think it would be prudent of me to make mention of the fact that it is strongly recommended that people in parks, gardens and even their own gardens refrain from feeding our native birds. Most human food – especially bread – is actually¬†quite dangerous – even deadly – for our birds. By all means, provide fresh drinking water in a birdbath, but resist the desire to feed them. It’s for their welfare.

Good birding,


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5 Responses to “Lunch snatching birds at Lane Cove National Park”

  1. Ken Rolph says:

    If you really want to encounter the sandwich swoopers try going to West Head next time you are in Sydney. Humans are badly outnumbered there. You are lucky to get away with yourself intact.

    I like noisy miners. They don’t put up with nonsense from our resident magpies or ravens. They do get intimidated by the rainbow lorikeets who put down their heads and run at them on the bird table. I recently thought It was pleasing to see the noisy miners taking refuge in our blueberry bush. Then I saw what their beaks were full of. Off to get some netting!

    • Trevor says:

      We had planned on going to West Head on our recent visit, but the grandchildren kindly shared their colds and we were confined to barracks for a while. We did go there several years ago. On that occasion, it was the brush turkey causing the problems. Same thing at Ku Ring Gai Wildflower Gardens at St Ives. Cheeky turkey tried to take off with my camera bag.

  2. […] in a good position and proceeded to eat our lunch. We had hardly started eating our sandwiches when we were robbed. Not only were the Laughing Kookaburras cheeky, so were the resident Australian Brush Turkeys, […]

  3. […] some of the resident birds, as well as some other wildlife. A few weeks ago I shared a photo of two Long-necked Turtles here. I have also written about the local Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and the Australian Wood Ducks I saw […]

  4. […] for the kookaburras in this park, especially if they have food on their table or barbecue. On one occasion a kookaburra snatched part of a sandwich from alongside my wife while we were eating […]

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