Waterholes in the Red Centre have been transformed into a lush oasis for Australia’s iconic green and gold budgerigar.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Central Australia recorded the wettest summer in a decade, refilling water courses and replenishing native grasses.
Tugan Woodley, specialist bird keeper at the Alice Springs Desert Park, said the conditions were perfect for budgies.
“It’s ticking all the boxes; you’ve got water, you’ve got shelter, you’ve got food, and they’re going to breed,” he said.
“And they’ll do it more than once.”
Mr Woodley said the main drawcard for the birds was the amount of rain the area has received over the past four to five months.
“They’ve just followed the rain in big numbers back to Central Australia, ” he said.
Sight to behold
Mr Woodley said seeing flocks of 5000 birds was a rare experience he would never forget.
“The noise – you just need to experience it. It’s really hard to describe the chatter between the budgies.”
The sound of the incoming flocks, wing beats and all, was enough to take your breath away, Mr Woodley said.
“It’s just incredible to hear.”
Circle of life
Mr Woodley said the explosion in budgie numbers was also attracting larger bird species such as the brown falcon.
“You’ve got the all the birds coming in just to have a drink and then that naturally brings in predators as well,” he said.
“It’s awesome to see [the predators] dive bombing through thousands of budgies and trying to get some food.”
Mr Woodley said there had definitely been an increase in raptor numbers in the region.
“The budgies are here to take advantage of the water in the seed. Then the raptors come in to take advantage of the abundance of food,” he said.
Which is why the tiny bird flocks together.
“It’s safety in numbers. A lot of people will compare it to a large school of fish,” he said.
“The large school of fish looks like one entity in the way that they move and co-ordinate their movements to escape predators. The budgies are the same.”