If you notice a bird with red whisker patches, a distinctive black crest and a loud chattering call, it could be a red-whiskered bulbul – a serious pest bird that can threaten South Australia’s plants and native birds and must be reported immediately.
Spring is the time to keep your eyes and ears out for the pest bird, as it’s their breeding season and when they are most noticeable and obvious.
The red-whiskered bulbul, a high-risk pest declared under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, poses a threat to South Australia’s horticulture industry.
Biosecurity SA Invasive Species Biosecurity Officer Lindell Andrews said it was important red-whiskered bulbuls are kept out of South Australia.
“The red-whiskered bulbul is a serious pest bird that damages fruit in commercial orchards and home gardens, spreads weeds and competes with native bird species,” she said.
“The bird is very distinctive and about the size of a sparrow with a red whisker patch, a pointed black crest, white neck and a unique sound.
“Keeping South Australia free from this pest bird is important to ensure our plants and native birds aren’t negatively impacted and we’re relying on members of the public to report sightings immediately to prevent it establishing in South Australia.”
Red-whiskered bulbuls are native to South-east Asia and were introduced to Sydney in the late 1880s. There are now well established pockets of the pest bird on the east coast of Australia.
In 2016, red-whiskered bulbuls were detected in the wild in the Adelaide Hills. Ten birds were removed during an incursion response led by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).
In 2017, PIRSA and the Department for Environment and Water held an amnesty for the red-whiskered bulbul.
Anyone caught with a red-whiskered bulbul faces a fine of up to $50,000 or a year in prison.
Members of the public are urged to report any sighting of the red-whiskered bulbul to PIRSA’s Pest Alert Hotline 1800 084 881.