The Noisy Miner is a bird with a clouded reputation.
Prior to widespread land clearing and fragmentation it was probably uncommon across much of its natural range, which extends from Tasmania throughout southern SA, Victoria and NSW to north Queensland … wherever open dry forests and woodlands occur.
That said, its habitat requirements are fairly specific. It is a bird of disturbed environments, where the understorey is absent or degraded and is usually found on the margins where farming land meets the bush. Around Newstead it is almost never observed in large tracts of bush such as the Muckleford State Forest/NCR or Sandon State Forest. However once you move to the edges of these places, especially where there are scattered patches of eucalypts, it’s the dominant bird species.
Its reputation is because of the hyper-aggressive behaviour towards other birds, which results in many cases to the almost total exclusion of smaller species (robins, thornbills, other honeyeaters etc.) from areas where Noisy Miners are resident.
Numerous experiments have been conducted to study the ecology and behaviour of Noisy Miners, including culling (legally permitted) of miner populations to assess the effect on other birds, especially small woodland species.
A new study as part of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub at ANU (see here) is being undertaken to assess if culling is an effective method to manage the impacts of noisy miners on threatened woodland birds, in particular the effect on breeding success. It is well known from previous culling experiments that small birds, such as pardalotes and thornbills, will almost immediately recolonise woodland patches when Noisy Miners are removed, although this effect is usually short-lived.
The images shown here were captured as I watched a majestic White-bellied Sea-Eagle near Cairn Curran Reservoir. The nest was in a small Cassinia, one of the few shrubs at the site. One of the eggs was very different to the other two, almost pure white and lacking pink blotches. The Pallid Cuckoo is known to parasitise Noisy Miner nests, so that’s a possible explanation. I heard my first Pallid Cuckoo for the season on Mia Mia Track the previous day.