The problem lies in the fact that Noisy Miners are unpleasantly aggressive to all other creatures and even to each other. As possibly Australia’s most hated bird they are also the most successful native bird species at the expense of many woodland birds including many threatened species.
As Native species, they are protected by law, but many people are calling for the bird to be culled to prevent them from driving several other species of woodland bird to extinction.
2. Why are they called Noisy Miners?
Noisy Miners certainly live up to their nickname! They are very loud and even annoying as they repeat their calls many times.
The most irritating is their alarm call when looking for their own kind and when they feel threatened. They repeatedly make their loud call like a piping ‘pee, pee, pee’ or ‘pwee, pwee, pwee’ all on an irritating single note. They use it when threatened yet have a different alarm call when the threat comes from a large bird flying overhead to an intruding dog or a human coming into their territory.
These vocal exchanges are almost constant, particularly in young birds and again most of their calls are on a single note.
It has been found that those who lived in a noisy urban setting were able to make their alarm call louder so they can be heard.
3. Why are Noisy Miners a problem?
Noisy Miners numbers have escalated, and their noise is not the only problem. Noisy Miners are unpleasantly aggressive to other wildlife, especially small birds. As they dominate the environment, they compete for nesting sites and reduce the habitat for native birds. They often mob other birds in large groups and evict birds and mammals from their tree-hollow nests.
Noisy Miners can change the identity of species present in a community of both animal and native fauna. They can spread diseases, reduce diversity, and cause local extinctions especially by wiping out small insectivorous birds.
The impacts on declining woodland bird species have been so concerning that in 2014, the aggressive exclusion of woodland birds from potential habitat by Noisy Miners was formally declared to be a Key Threatening Process under Australian environmental legislation.
3. Why have Noisy Miners numbers increased?
In contrast to human activity has caused many species to decline dramatically, but not so for the Noisy Minor. The change in the landscape that the European colonisation of Australia brought about, has been beneficial to increasing the numbers of miners!
Miners prefer areas of bushland that have been cleared and now the dense bushland of the past has disappeared, to make way for human activity the Noisy Miners have been able to operate more abundantly. Denser woodland with a shrubby understorey is less attractive to noisy miners because of the extra energy required to chase out small woodland birds.
Noisy Miners consequently prefer small patches of eucalypt woodland with a grass ground layer and minimal plant life growing below the forest canopy. This sort of habitat is created when woodland is used for grazing. The agricultural landscape of eastern Australia is particularly right for this and is where the numbers of Miners have exploded
4. What can be done to remove Noisy Miners?
To discourage noisy Miners form open spaces need to be filled. Planting denser shrubs and trees to increase the density of foliage is a long-term goal and very costly.
In areas where Noisy Miners have been removed from the area, the numbers of different birds have increased dramatically as well as their individual numbers at least for a short time but then the Noisy Miners come back and recolonise
Relocating the birds has been tried but has not worked well as they then aggressively attack other miners in the new location.
As Native birds, they cannot be culled without explicit permission and is a controversial proposition. Lethal control has been trialled as a potential alternative as well as fertility control.
5. How do I discourage Noisy Miner birds from my property?
To discourage Noisy Miners and increase the bird activity in a garden, the garden needs to be created with different layers. Miners like tidy lawns and manicured hedges as they prefer foraging on the ground where the grass is short, and they avoid areas with shrubs and long grasses. The most deterring habitat is dense tree canopies and thick shrubbery so planting more bushes and shrubs to increase the diversity and complexity of native plants may help discourage them and all the while providing habitats for smaller birds to hide in.
Species of trees and shrubs which are nectar sources attract miners, so they are attracted to fruit trees, pines, and palms. Eucalypts and grevilleas, as beautiful as they are, should be limited.
Ensuring pet food is removed when it is finished and covering compost bins will help as well as resisting feeding birds when Miners are present. Erect Miner proof nesting boxes only allow smaller birds to get in and build their nests. Covering gaps in buildings and eaves, with bird proof netting or wire mesh will also deter Noisy Miners from building nests.
6. How do you stop Noisy Miners from swooping?
If pedestrians walk calmly in a group as they are passing a nesting zone, whilst maintaining eye contact until they are away from their territory is a good tactic.
The birds are less likely to swoop if they think you are watching them so drawing a pair of eyes or placing eyespots on the back of hats or helmets is a deterrent. Even wearing sunglasses on the back of your head as you walk past a nesting site may help!
Like all swooping birds during the breeding season, their swooping to protect their territory nest and young is instinctive. Swooping is a way of scaring off intruders and pets or other animals are seen as intruders. This behaviour can last up to six weeks so best to avoid Noisy Miners across their nesting period.
7. Do Noisy Miners increase Rural Dieback?
Rural dieback is a tree’s response to negative stress occurring within its environment. Trees die or decline in crown health prematurely and often rapidly.
Noisy Miners have been associated with rural dieback due to them appearing to disrupt the control of insects by other insectivores. By driving away small birds and other insect eaters, more insects are around to damage leaves and cause dieback. It has been found that general tree health in areas where the Noisy Miners have been removed. There has been an influx of small insectivorous birds that have assisted the recovery of dieback-affected remnants by consuming large numbers of insects.
In remnants where Eucalyptus macrocarpa, commonly known as Grey Box, was the dominant canopy tree, there was a significant decrease in leaf damage caused by insects when small birds occupied remnants following the removal of Noisy Miners. The general tree health at remnants from which Noisy Miners were removed also showed a steady improvement.
8. Have Noisy Miners adapted to city living?
Noisy Miners have not only adapted to city living they have benefitted from it!
Noisy Miners natural habitat is open forests and woodlands but changes to the environment in urban settings have created prime space for them. They thrive in wide open spaces with big trees that allow them to look out over their territory and chase away any potential enemies or harmless smaller native birds. City living open parks are perfect!
The presence of humans brings pretty nectar-rich garden plants in city gardens and trash harbouring food scraps. This has made finding food easier for these birds and helped their population increase
9. Can Noisy Miners kill other birds?
Noisy Miners have been seen harassing small birds and even Australia’s beloved larger Kookaburra. They use their weight and dense colony numbers to mob, attack and even kill other bird species. Their aggressive temperament can harm other birds very badly and their attacks may be so vigorous that most other birds are excluded from and area which Noisy Miners occupy. When they fight for hollows with native birds, they destroy their eggs and chicks and stop them from breeding. They have even been known to evict possums and sugar gliders from tree hollows.
Noisy Miners live in colonies as large as several hundred birds and ferociously defend their territories chasing and attacking intruders. Besides harassing birds, they use their weight and dense colony numbers to mob, attack and even kill other bird species. When a single Miner is too weak to dislodge a competitor, a group will form a mob. Native birds soon get the hint when one is killed and leave the area completely.
10. What is the difference between an Indian Myna and a native Noisy Miner?
The Indian Myna and the native Noisy Miner look and sound similar. Their names have different spellings but the same pronunciation, hence the confusion. One is damagingly aggressive and the other innocently.
The native noisy miner is causing more damage than the invasive, introduced species of myna bird, new research has shown.
Noisy Miners are native Australian honeyeaters and often confused with the Indian Myna, as they are both the same size, a yellow beak, and an eye patch. Both species live in large noisy groups and are aggressive but in different ways.
Native Miners have flesh-coloured feet and a mostly grey plumage with a black crown and cheeks. They have a distinctive yellow patch behind the eye and white tips on the tail feathers.
The Indian Mynas have yellow feet and chocolate plumage. They have bare eye skin and in flight they show large white wing patches. Indian Mynas are native to southern Asia and India. They are popular in these areas as crop pest control. They are symbols of undying love since they pair for life. Totally opposite to the Australian view that they are “flying rats” or “cane toads of the sky”
Indian Mynas were first introduced into Australia from Asia in 1862 to control caterpillars and other insects in market gardens around Melbourne. Then in 1883 Indian Mynas were transported to Townsville and neighbouring sugarcane areas in north Queensland to combat locusts and cane beetles.
The native Noisy Miner is causing more damage than the invasive introduced species of Indian Myna bird.