Surveillance efforts ramp up for starlings

Published on Thursday, 9 November 2023 at 9:41:18 AM

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has ramped up surveillance and control efforts for starlings following much higher-than-average numbers being trapped in our region.

DPIRD runs an ongoing trapping and surveillance program in the south-east of Western Australia to prevent the encroachment of the pest birds from eastern Australia, where this introduced pest has established. 

In October, DPIRD’s seasonal surveillance and trapping program removed 20 starlings between Cape Arid National Park and Hopetoun and close to 300 birds through the border trapping program.

Department officers are regularly checking more than 120 starling lure traps spanning an area twice the size of Tasmania. 

Research scientist Susan Campbell said the common starling was considered one of the world’s most invasive bird pests. 

“Starlings are a significant threat to WA’s agricultural, social, biodiversity and cultural assets,” Dr Campbell said.  

“They cause severe damage to high-value fruit crops, especially stone fruits and grapes, and consume high volumes of livestock feed. 

“Starlings also often live near people in large roosting flocks that can cause considerable nuisance through high levels of noise and soiling infrastructure with droppings.

“We encourage rural landholders and local bird enthusiasts to be vigilant and report any unusual activity such as birds on the back of livestock or groups of black birds flying in tight groups.”

What to look for

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

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

How to report sightings

Unusual bird sightings, particularly in the Hopetoun and Esperance areas, should be reported to the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service (08) 9368 3080 or email, or through the department’s MyPestGuide® Reporter app

More information on starlings is available from the department’s website

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