Being a self-confessed bird nerd, I very often find myself conversing with all manner of people about avian related subjects. I often relay to people how much I love seeing the local flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos fly over each day; they are just such incredible, magical birds.
It is often relayed to me that the species must be doing well locally, as we are seeing more of them in the valley. Now, off the bat this assumption makes total sense, however the larger numbers being seen in and around Bellingen are not in fact a sign of them prospering in the local region, but actually the result of smaller flocks coming together as a result of the loss of suitable feeding and breeding habitat in the neighbouring fire devastated areas to the south, west and north of us. This loss of habitat has forced these smaller flocks to come together in the areas that were spared from the destruction of last spring and summer. So, far from being a good sign, the significantly larger numbers of these amazing birds that we are seeing is actually a very worrying one, that demonstrates the immense pressure that these and dare I say all other native species are facing, not just in our region, but all over our beautiful country.
When these smaller flocks come together to form large flocks in areas that have traditionally supported a smaller number of birds, this also causes problems, as the competition for food and nesting sites is greatly increased, causing potential imbalances in the ecosystem. This is amplified further as a result of other species that are not normally encountered in a region moving in as a result of the loss of their own preferred habitat; we are also experiencing this in our region due to the extensive loss of habitat to our south, west and north. Our fauna is under immense pressure to survive at present, and in fact collectively the native species that call Australia home have never previously had to endure such a fight for survival. Literally, virtually all species are now threatened by loss of habitat, this is the sad reality.
I don't like to be negative, but we really must acknowledge that we are currently in the midst of an extinction crisis in Australia and if we are to have any chance of reversing this trend we need to act fast, as time is not on our side - once a species becomes extinct, it is gone forever. The scale of the current destruction of habitat through the widespread clearing of land right across Australia is downright scary and on par with the worst offenders the world over; we talk about how bad countries like Brazil, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Congo etc are in terms of their treatment of the environment, when our own rate of deforestation is just as enormous. This is not a record that we can be proud of, in all honesty it is in fact downright scary and shameful. We must do better when it comes to protecting the incredible land that we are the very lucky custodians of.
I live in hope that we can turn things around and work together for a brighter future. Conserving the incredible, life-giving native forests that we have left will benefit every inhabitant of this beautiful country, humans included.