Monday, October 31, 2011

It's a war out there

A pair of very innocent trees, you may think. Not so. Every evening there is a war happening within the foliage. Like all good wars, there is a long lead up period.

We go back to 2004, a time of drought in Melbourne. A nearby cypress tree favoured as a roosting place for Indian myna birds died and it was removed. It was somewhat of a relief to be rid of the racket they made in the evening and morning. The mynas decided to roost in a London plane tree across the road. All was well for the introduced pest bird, until winter when they tree lost its leaves. They moved on elsewhere for the winter but returned to the same tree once it burst into leaf again.

All was well for the aggressive myna birds for a couple of years. They arrived for the summer to roost and wintered elsewhere.

But come the end of the drought, birds I know as mudlarks, and I've heard them called mudjays, seemed to breed rather prolifically this year past. This year they decided to occupy a tree on our side of St Kilda Road. So on one side we have the mynas and the other side the mud larks. Now mud larks are not shrinking violet birds either. Just watch them in spring as they attack glass where the see a competitor for a lady bird's affection, their own reflection.

Wars are usually about expansion of territories and that is what is happening and it has broken out in direct attacks.

While the war is not yet over, I feel the battle is almost won. The mud larks have moved into the myna's tree and are slowly driving the mynas out, now occupying both trees on either side of the road. Many of the mynas have retreated a smaller adjacent tree, but I fear this will be temporary fall back position before a full withdrawal. Naturally I side with the native mudlark, rather than the foreign pest. I'm sure there is an analogy to be drawn there somewhere, but who knows what.


  1. Hello Andrew:
    How very extraordinary. And even more so that the mud larks have, in effect, conquered the territory of the myna birds. We wonder if there will be a counter attack or if victory will be confirmed?!

  2. Glad to hear the aggressive Myna birds have met their match!
    I've seen them gang up to drive away smaller numbers of native birds here, good to see the shoe's on the other foot (or other wing?).

  3. yay,a win for the mudlarks !

  4. Another victory for our beloved native birds :-).

  5. Anonymous8:43 am

    Yes it seems the Mudlarks are the only species to stand up to the peskie Myna Birds. Have seen the Myna's giving a black crow a hard time.

  6. I think in time I will be able to confirm it JayLa.

    Jayne, I've seen them trying to drive away wattle birds, which are pretty aggressive too.

    IWBY, looks like it.

    FruitCake, good name for a football club.

    Yep Windsmoke, I'm pleased.

    Anon, in spite of their appearance crows and ravens don't seem very aggressive.

  7. Go the mudlarks. They're also called PeeWee's too, which makes me giggle. Funny little things they are when they see their reflection.

  8. Fen, it is odd how most animals don't react much to their own reflection, but these birds do.

  9. Anonymous1:32 am

    I've never thought about it but I suppose Australian crows/ravens aren't that agressive. Unlike their Japanese cousins who will attack any other bird they take a disliking to. I've even seen them pick on falcons or hawks! And as for pigeons, the poor things don't stand a chance. V.

  10. Vik, I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I've never seen a raven here attack another bird and best, they don't swoop people. Pigeons seem to do remarkably well in spite of aggressive birds. Btw, I think Japanese crows/ravens might be a bit smarter than our varieties.


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