'Cicadas on steroids' to scare off starlings

STARLING Wars – the sequel and series number six – is under way in Peel St.

This time around Tamworth Regional Council war lords have enlisted a new weapon in the fight against the starlings of our main CBD strip – it’s cicadas on steroids.

According to chief council starling wars officer Peter Bukowski, the latest blitz on the invasion of starlings into the centre of the city in the evenings is a trial fight to deter the birds from flocking here.

“It’s harassment and we’re using a pre-recorded sound now to deter them from taking up roosts in the street,” the TRC technical officer said.

“It’s like cicadas on steroids.”

The cicada sound system was set up in the block between White St and where the TRC headquarters at Ray Walsh House is and is turned on from about 6 o’clock at night before the

starlings swoop and then turned off as street cleaners hit Peel St.

He’s not confident but TRC regional services director Peter Resch said the very early initial results suggested the birds weren’t happy with their night roosting surround sound system.

Since 2007, the council has had a fight on its hands with the pests. They’ve taken a real liking to the trees along Peel and their roosting at nights have caused a stink and a stream of bird poo on street furniture and footpath paving stretches.

The last couple of years haven’t been so bad, but Mr Bukowski says the latest trial is designed to knock the birds back and keep them away.

They’ve used water, strobe lights, the sound of two hands clapping with wooden sticks, nets, plastic snakes, and now cicadas that sound like they’re on steroids because they’re loud and designed to disrupt the birds from a good night’s sleep.

Mr Bukowski said the hot, dry summer might have had an impact too but he also believed the removal of some power lines along Kable Ave had also meant the birds didn’t start to congregate close to the city centre just before dusk. 

“They’re not as severe as they have been in the past but we want to knock them out of the trees before they get settled,” he said.

Both he and Mr Resch agree that water has always been the best starling wars weapon.

“You blast them with it and they don’t like it, it’s cold and uncomfortable. But given the fact we’re under water restrictions we don’t believe we can use that water to do the job. This is an alternative. We are hopeful,” Mr Resch said.

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