Thursday 5 May 2016

Buzz off bush turkey bastards

Hello - I'm a bastard buzzard

At first I thought they were cool. "Hey check out these gigantic birds in our backyard!" I'd never seen bush turkeys (or brush turkeys, as they are actually called), in gardens before - even though I grew up in Sydney.

A few years on and the novelty factor has completely worn off. Bush turkeys are bastards.

Ok sure, they're protected native birds of Australia, but I couldn't care less at the moment because they are PESTS. Just like possums. If they stayed in the bush I would probably still think they were cool, but they don't. They're bloody annoying backyard intruders who scratch up your garden and trash your plants.

The reason we're seeing so many more of them now is because you're not allowed to kill them or their eggs anymore (aborigines used to eat them - can totally understand why). There are also less foxes around (which used to hunt them), and lots of gardens are now shrub and mulch heavy which is just what they love.

At the moment we have four of the buggers lurking around our place - the Turkey Gang I call them. They're ugly and so destructive. I've tried getting our cat to scare them but he couldn't care less, so have resorted to spraying them with the hose. Even the kids get in on the act and try and scare them off too by shouting at them.

I know this might seem mean considering they were here before us settlers, but we live near the Manly Dam so there is plenty of native area around for them to find food and create their mounds - the piles of earth the males create to impress lady turkeys. If they're lucky, the female will choose their mound to lay her egg in, but only after a quick sexual favour has been granted. The egg is not theirs either but the next one will be, when she's moved on to some other turkey's mound. Nice.

Anyway, my efforts to get rid of the Turkey Gang aren't working. It's a downright invasion. So I've researched a few tips for frustrated gardeners like myself. Knock yourselves out fellow turkey haters... 

How to save your garden from bush turkey bastards
* Make the ground hard for them to rake - so place stones, sticks or heavy mulch around plants or chicken wire under the mulch.
* Use netting over plants you particularly love.
* Try placing a large mirror outside - they'll think it's another male and after attempting to fight it will find another place to create their shag piles.
* Don't leave pet food or other food for animals lying around outside.
* Don't leave your compost uncovered.
* Don't leave piles of mulch lying around.
* Do leave piles of mulch lying around - only if you've decided to give up the fight and coexist with the bastards. This way the pressure will be off your plants and garden beds, and they can use the mulch to make their mounds. 

Do you have any other solutions for the suburban bush turkey conundrum?

Photo credit: Birds in Backyards

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