Little corellas and other flocking birds

In South Australia, there are several native bird species whose behaviour can have a detrimental impact from an economic, social and environmental perspective. They are:

  • galahs
  • little corellas
  • long-billed corellas
  • sulphur-crested cockatoos
  • silver gulls.

The introduction of agricultural systems, brought about by European settlement, has significantly changed the natural ecological processes that originally kept bird numbers in check.

For cockatoos like the little corella, there is more grain available for longer periods during the summer and into early autumn which enables more birds to survive through to the breeding season.

The problems caused by cockatoos are in part because of this increase in numbers, but also because of their feeding and flocking behaviour. From late summer to early winter, roaming flocks of juvenile birds can join up with adult birds and focus their attention on a few prime feeding, roosting and loafing areas.

Temporary flocks of tens of thousands of birds can gather and descend on a few localised areas. When this happens, a small number of farmers or residents can experience severe economic losses caused by large numbers of birds.

Problems caused by large numbers of little corellas include:

  • defoliation of river red gums or other native and ornamental trees that they roost in
  • damage to installations such as tarpaulins covering grain bunkers, and wiring and flashing on buildings
  • taking grain from newly seeded paddocks
  • creating a noise nuisance to local residents.

Birds that are increasing their breeding range, such as galahs and little corellas, can also take over the breeding hollows of threatened species, such as glossy black cockatoos.

The report Managing impacts of the Little Corella on the Fleurieu Peninsula (388kb pdf) was written by Ian Temby, a wildlife specialist in the management of abundant native species.  The report was jointly funded by the City of Onkaparinga, DEWNR, Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and Alexandrina Council.  The report looks at the biology and behaviour of the Little Corella in the context of problems being experienced in certain towns on the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.  It highlights different management techniques and uses a best practice bird management approach that includes defining the problem, developing a management plan, implementing that plan and then monitoring and evaluating the results. 

We have prepared four documents to help community groups, landholders and councils to develop action plans and an integrated approach for little corella management:

More information: