At Booderee we are trying a new approach to protecting the endangered hooded plovers that nest and forage in the park. The great news is that following intensive fox control the population of hooded plovers has grown – there are now up to 13 birds using the beach at any one time. However, their position is still precarious. Before the arrival of Europeans, hooded plover populations could cope with native predators but added threats mean they are now more vulnerable to native species too – they are now at risk from Australian ravens or little ravens. The ravens are native species and we would only wish to kill these predators under extreme circumstances.
Scientists are confirming that ravens are intelligent creatures with exceptional problem solving abilities. We’ve been encouraging the birds to choose chicken eggs over hooded plover eggs and it’s been successful – but the problem we’ve encountered is that ravens stock up on their catch. We’ve seen ravens take chickens eggs, store them and go back out hunting for plover eggs!
Instead we’ve switched to ‘prey’ that is too big to hoard – large balls of ground dog biscuit, peanut butter and oats. The chicken eggs only keep the birds busy for a few minutes, but our new concoction seems to keep them distracted for hours. We will know for certain when we give it a formal trial this year.
Brenda, Booderee National Park
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