Look out for pest sparrows

CLARE NEGUSBunbury Herald

Bunbury people are being urged to report sightings of unusual birds following the discovery of three Asian tree sparrows in Marlston Hill.

Department of Agriculture and Food biosecurity officer James Sheehan said the sparrows had been seen feeding with native birds in Bunbury backyards.

“Tree sparrows look similar to some finches, but are slightly more plump,” he said.

“They are brown or dark grey with a streaked back and a wedge-shaped beak, between 11 and 16 centimetres long.”

Sparrows are especially attracted to sites including bird-feeding tables, refuse bins, cafes, aviaries and grain storage facilities.

When feeding they are often seen hopping along the ground.

“The department has located and removed two of the sparrows, but we need the public’s help to find the remaining bird or any others,” Mr Sheehan said.

He said tree sparrows were a declared pest in WA and were often found near ports after arriving on ships.

Sparrows have the potential to damage cultivated grain and horticulture crops, spread disease and compete with native birds for food.

“The discovery of sparrows in Bunbury highlights the need for people, particularly those living near the port, to report any unusual birds quickly so they can be located and removed if required,” he said.

Any sightings of sparrows or other exotic birds should be reported to the Department of Agriculture and Food’s Bunbury office on 9780 6100 or the Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.

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