back to article Birds are pecking apart Australia's national broadband network

Australia's national broadband network (NBN) is being pecked apart by birds. nbn™, the company building and operating the NBN, has revealed that “native parrots have recently been found feasting on spare power and fibre cables strung from NBN Co's near 2,000 Fixed-Wireless towers”. The company has used a picture of a sulphur- …

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  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    A culling program

    It's the only thing for it.

    1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A culling program

      There's about a bajillion cockatoos in Australia. Good luck culling enough to make a difference.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: A culling program

        Oh I know! They fly in flocks over my house at the crack of dawn. It sounds like the world's ending.

        Cull them all.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Cull them all.

          Beautiful plumage, though.

          1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: Cull them all.

            Culling doesn't work - what will work is a good recipe ... cockatoo cutlets, curried cockatoo, blackened cockatoo or similar ... humans get bored shooting and killing things eventually but they never get tired of a good meal.

            Here in Louisiana we used to throw Red Drum back when we caught them as a trash fish ... and then Paul Prudhomme invented Blackened Redfish ... Red Drum is now on the endangered list...

          2. Michael Thibault

            Re: Cull them all.

            Plumage is beautiful, you say! A little social engineering and the cull could be self-starting and pay for itself.

          3. mantavani
            Thumb Up

            Re: Cull them all.

            The plumage don't enter into it.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Coat

        "There's about a bajillion cockatoos in Australia."

        Wot? And no one's tried popping a few on the Barbie?

        They sound like every other species of flying rodent, and I'm quite an admirer of the Korean rural rodent control policy

        But oh dear what a glorious headline opportunity sadly squandered.

        "Flying rodent tells NBN to flock off."

        "Flock that. Cockatoos couldn't give a XXXX how much NBN cost"

        1. Denarius Silver badge

          Re: "There's about a bajillion cockatoos in Australia."

          eating our local birds ? John, there is a local saying about that. To cook a parrot, drop a rock and parrot into a pot of water. Boil until rock is soft, eat it and throw bird away. In the NT the local story was wrapping cockatoo in foil or mud and baking in hot coals for two hours would do. Never tried it as barra were available.

          Oz wildlife, deadly and tough in both sense of the word. PS first brown snake of summer around yesterday. Regrettably, much of our local wild bird populations are reducing, except sulfur crested cokatoos. Many juvenile magpies are hit by 4WDs at speed on narrow lanes locally.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: eating our local birds ?

            Ooh! I wouldn't mind noshing down on a cockatoo.

            1. hplasm Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Ooh! I wouldn't mind noshing down on a cockatoo.

              Ooo! matron!!

            2. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: eating our local birds ?

              "Ooh! I wouldn't mind noshing down on a cockatoo"

              I'm sure we can find you a large pecker...

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: eating our local birds ?

                A big, beautiful cockatoo.

            3. jgarbo

              Re: eating our local birds ?

              You haven't heard about the recipe for cockatoo soup.

              Take one cockatoo, plucked or not. Toss in pot of boiling water, a little salt added. Toss in one house brick. Boil for a few days. When brick is dissolved, chuck out cockatoo and eat the soup.

              That's how tough the buggers are.

            4. Toni the terrible

              Re: eating our local birds ?

              ooooo errr,

          2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Coat

            "Oz wildlife, deadly and tough in both sense of the word. "

            Oh.

            So one for the slow cooker then?

        2. Bill Posters
          Mushroom

          Re: "There's about a bajillion cockatoos in Australia."

          You can cook a cockatoo.

          Boil in billy with 4 or 5 river stones for a week.

          (Keep the water topped up.)

          Carefully drain the billy.

          Eat the stones.

        3. Clive Harris

          Re: Wot? And no one's tried popping a few on the Barbie?

          Fry me kangaroo brown, sport!

      3. Geriant

        Re: A culling program

        I dunno. There were several bajillion passenger pigeons in North America -- and they were culled to nonexistence.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: A culling program

          Passenger pigeons made the mistake, other than being delicious, of migrating south for the winter in large, low flying flocks. So low flying they were netted.

          Cockatoos do not migrate en mass making an eradication program in a country with such large wildernesses a very different proposition.

          Being native is not a necessary bar to culling or hunting, see the roo meat in the supermarkets. In NZ the once fairly uncommon native paradise shellduck has adapted to open farmland and farm ponds so well (they eat grass too) that it is as legal to hunt them, in the season, as introduced mallards.

          But better bone up on your NZ native duck profiles before you go. Shoot one of the rare native ducks you are not allowed to shoot and all hell will descend around you.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: A culling program

          "I dunno. There were several bajillion passenger pigeons in North America -- and they were culled to nonexistence."

          Do Aussies want to stoop down to that historical madness?

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: A culling program

            Do Aussies want to stoop down to that historical madness?

            We did have a go at the emus once...

      4. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: A culling program

        "There's about a bajillion cockatoos in Australia. Good luck culling enough to make a difference."

        Not a problem, we'll just introduce a new species to eat them. That's always worked well in the past.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: A culling program

          Cricket is the answer, as so often. Was reading a thing about WG Grace on one of his tours of Australia in the 1880s/90s. Apparently the England team were travelling for some inordinately long distance, and as WG put, amused themselves by having a competition to see how many of the local parrots each one of them could shoot from the moving coach.

          Good old WG. The man who wrote on the first page of his manual on batting, "one should always remove one's pipe before going out to bat". Execllent advice, I'm sure we can all agree.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: A culling program

      Chop off a cockatoo. It will stop them reproducing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every living thing in Australia is deadly dangerous

    Is this nature saying:

    Down under, up yours!

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Every living thing in Australia is deadly dangerous

      Does this include the humans?

      1. Toni the terrible

        Re: Every living thing in Australia is deadly dangerous

        Yes

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Every living thing in Australia is deadly dangerous

      Except, according to Pterry, some of the sheep.

  3. Tac Eht Xilef

    So NBNCo ...

    ... failed to heed the lessons learned by every other telco & regional/remote broadcaster in the last 50 years?

    I wonder how much of their in-ground fibre is termite & wombat proof?

    (Reminds me of the scene a few years ago when they were relining street pipes around here (gas, I think). To measure it they rolled the sleeving out in sections along the right of way behind the houses houses, backing on to the local park, then knocked off for the afternoon. When they came back next morning, they found it shredded & hanging in chunks from the trees.

    Turns out the local possums & scrub turkeys loved the stuff...)

    1. BanburyBill

      Re: So NBNCo ...

      Plus ca change. In the early days of the Overland Telegraph to Darwin (~1870), they kept getting line breaks because the local Aboriginal people found that the ceramic insulators made excellent sharp edges when broken, so climbed the poles and made off with them. Chief Engineer Charles Todd (the town of Alice is named after his wife) deflected this by ordering old broken insulators be left scattered around the poles after construction and maintenance.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: So NBNCo ...

      along the right of way behind the houses houses

      Wow. Even the houses in Australia have houses..

  4. mt_head

    Reminds me of a bit from an old Emo Phillips joke/song (which I'm sure I will mangle):

    I walked into a pet shop, and said "Give me a parrot, please"

    He asked "Would you like a cockatoo"

    I said "No thanks, just the bird."

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As to culling, just offer it as varmit control holiday to yanks

    Certainly target provides far more colorful/interesting scalps than the old native population of the US ever did.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: As to culling, just offer it as varmit control holiday to yanks

      The non-native population of US provides for plenty of that nowdays. Just make your choice between New York sewerage crocks, Pythons in Florida and swamp rats in Louisiana. Bigger trophy sizes to put on your wall too.

      1. CentralCoasty
        Trollface

        Re: As to culling, just offer it as varmit control holiday to yanks

        Hey, this is a good idea... .we can deal with all sorts of varmits in the same stroke....

        ..... whilst the idiot trophy hunters are out taking pot-shots, the other crowd of parakeets will be busy shredding the camper-van's tires, window seals, roof vent, the tents, food containers, eskies, water containers - in fact just about anything that can get their beak into.....

        ...... so we end up with lots of dead cockatoos and lots of dead trophy hunters... a win win I think!

  6. Scoular

    Why have unprotected cables there at all

    The birds are well known to enjoy what they do and if the active cables are protected why bother putting in spares and not protecting them.

    It has all happened before The SF BART system suffered from cables being destroyed by gophers so all the buried cables had to be dug up and replaced by the armoured ones which should have been used in the first place.

    Being a dumb cheapskate costs money.

    1. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: Why have unprotected cables there at all

      "Being a dumb cheapskate costs money."

      Yes, but is the first step to a long and fruitful career in upper management.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Why have unprotected cables there at all

        No one said that the bean counters at $FATASS_CORP are the sharpest tacks in the box

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Why have unprotected cables there at all

      Or some contractor saw dollar signs. They told them that it would be cost savings knowing they would have4 to be dug up and relaid .

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Why have unprotected cables there at all

        Or some contractor saw dollar signs. They told them that it would be cost savings knowing they would have4 to be dug up and relaid .

        Reminds me of what happened here back in the noughties.

        New highway project awarded to the lowest bidder, started falling apart as soon as it was opened.

        Mo problem, call in the company contracted to do repairs.

        Guess what? Same company.

    3. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Why have unprotected cables there at all

      > Being a dumb cheapskate costs money.

      To be fair, they expect the network to be obsolete as soon as it's rolled out. Why add all those expensive plastic containers?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised the NBN didn't tweet about it.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      ..or even get in a flap over it.

      1. John Tappin

        Now, now...

        you are just "parroting" old jokes...

      2. gc23
        Joke

        A pun in the hand

        I'm sure the problem ruffled feathers somewhere.

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: A pun in the hand

          They’ll just have to perchase some new spares.

  8. the Jim bloke Bronze badge
    Happy

    Australian bird calls are generally the opposite of melodious

    So "tweeting" is right up there with "white christmas" as something those drongoes from the northern hemisphere think is a thing.

    Some few birds are pleasant to listen to - so long as you can hear them over the flies. The game 'Gaints: Citizen Kabuto' used Australian wildlife calls as part of its background ambiance, supposedly to create the sense of an alien world... personally I found it comforting and familiar.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Australian bird calls are generally the opposite of melodious

      I used to share my house with a budgie. He could say "ploppy bottom" amongst other things. Saved me the bother. I often thought it would be fun to spend a couple of years down there teaching the native budgies a few choice phrases.

      Mind you despite their diminutive size budgies can be quite loud if they want to be.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Australian bird calls are generally the opposite of melodious

        Most New Zealand birds tell you their name, their Maori name at least. The Maori listened to the birds, assumed they were telling them their names so obliged. And yes the Morepork (native owl) really does say 'morepork' in the night time bush. The keas, the mountain parrots who have destructive tendencies to match cockatoos will also go 'keeaaa'.

        I remember trying to sleep in a tent at Franz Joseph with the woman now my wife while two keas in trees 40m apart screamed at each other. Then again I have also been woken in the men's dorm at Franz Joseph youth hostel by a chorus of korimako (bellbirds) which was glorious. The English name gives a sense of the tone of the call of these birds.

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