Bin Chickens

Africa has the Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus). The “sacred”  bit comes from the good ol’ Egyptians who worshipped the sacred ibis as the god Thoth, animals being incaranations of deities on earth.

Australia has the Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca), a close relative of the African species. Whereas the ancient Egyptians revered their version, the same cannot be said for the Australians. Elegant though the Ibis may be, to my eyes anyway, its habit of scavenging to supplement its diet has earned it the less than complimentary name of “Bin Chicken”.

Regarded as something of a pest it may be but It is far from dumb, unlike Homo sapiens, where the “sapiens” bit frequently seems less than appropriate. Homo sapiens introduced Cane Toads into Australia to control Cane Beetle, the cane in question being sugar cane which is a huge cash crop in Queensland. Cane Toads are now an expanding epidemic in Australia – will we never learn? Cane Toads exude nasty toxins from glands behind their shoulders and along their backs as a defence mechanism.

Back to the Ibis. The Ibis (actually there’s a couple of species) has learned to grab Cane Toads in its forcep-like beak and shake them about causing them to exude their toxins. It then carries them off to a nearby creek to give them a darn good washing before eating them. This is apparently called the “stress and wash” technique. Brilliant!

Threskiornis molucca (1 of 2)Threskiornis molucca (2 of 2)We’re nearing the end of what has been a wonderful visit to Australia and I wanted to see what pictures I might be able to get of the belittled Bin Chicken. We’d spotted some down at Lake Sambell in Beechworth so off we toddled to snag ‘em on pixels.

Beechworth AsylumBin Chickens in the bag, we repaired to the Bridge Road Brewers in the centre of Beechworth – look at that, two decent breweries in a town of 4000 – for a spot of lunch before paying a quick visit to the Beechworth Asylum, which Francine had been interested in pointing her camera at. Unfortunately, she declared it to be a bit too hot to concentrate on any creativity. I do quite like this straight shot that she came away with, though.

Back to home base in Stanley to relax on the deck with a cold beer or three and any wildlife that happened to drop in.

Posted in 2024-01 Australia