5-speed listening (Invasive Species - Level 5)

'Hated' Australian bird dealing with invasive species






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A bird that is reviled by many in Australia has undergone an image change. That's because it is helping to get rid of a huge nuisance – the invasive cane toad. The bird is the white ibis, which is indigenous to Australia. Many Australians view the ibis as a pest because it scavenges for food from garbage bags and trash cans. It even steals food from people's hands. People nickname it the "bin chicken". The word "bin" is Australian and British English for trash can. People are now seeing the ibises in a positive light. The birds have learnt how to eat the poisonous and destructive cane toad.

Cane toads were introduced to Australia in the 1930s. Farmers thought they would eradicate a beetle that was eating their crops. However, the toads ate some insects and small animals to the point of extinction. They quickly spread across the country. Their poison is strong enough to kill most animals that eat toads. They had no natural predators until the white ibis learnt to rid them of their venom. An Australian journalist said the ibises pick the toads up and "flick them about". The stress of this makes the toads release all their poison. The ibises then wash them in water and eat them.

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