Cockatoo Chaos!

Meanwhile in Surrey Hills, photographer battles severe allergies to bring you images of a cacophony of Little Corellas decimating neighbourhood trees.


It was sheer chaos Monday afternoon in Surrey Hills, when a flock of over one thousand Little Corella cockatoos descended to feed on street trees. Coinciding with school finishing time, the scene was chaotic as delighted children and perplexed parents gathered on the sidewalk to observe the melee, vehicles battling through the scrum of birds on the road. The birds’ raucous screams even brought people rushing out of their houses to see what was going on.

The Corellas were here to feed on the introduced Plane Trees, which line the streets of Surrey Hills. But some locals were dismayed when the birds found their way to garden trees and bushes, boughs weighed down and breaking beneath the weight of one hundred or more birds.

The air was thick with torn up seedpods and plant fibres, filling nostrils and eyes and coating everything. The constantly falling conkers sounded like a heavy rainstorm, combining with the shrieks and screams of the squabbling birds to create an assault on the ears.


Periodically, the flock would be startled by something and take off as one, in a roar of beating wings and hoarse screeches, wheeling about once or twice before settling back into the trees.

Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) are a member of the cockatoo family, related to the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita). They feed on a wide variety of seeds, and so are able to inhabit diverse habitats, including farmland and urban areas. Due to their behavior of moving in flocks of a thousand or more, they are able to do significant damage to crops and garden species, and so are considered by some to be a pest.

For (most of) the residents of Surrey Hills however, the presence of so many of these rambunctious visitors provided some welcome entertainment and excitement, as well as moments of community bonding as groups drew together to discuss the spectacle.

The flock is gaining notoriety, having been present within the area of Surrey Hills, Balwyn, North Balwyn and Canterbury for the last few years. For the moment, they appear to have made the Surrey Hills Aqualink recreation centre their base and nighttime roost.

After half an hour of close-up, eye-level entertaining antics and photo opportunities that would make any bird lover or photographer giddy, the flock took off once more, roaring down the street and out of the neighbourhood.

In their wake they left a path of utter destruction… and of course one pollen-sensitive Wild Melbourne writer with eyes streaming and constant sneezing, allergic, but happy.