Budgerigars, which are normally an arid country inland species, have been spotted in coastal areas.
Budgerigars, which are normally an arid country inland species, have been spotted in coastal areas. David Kilmister

Dry conditions send budgies to coast in search of water

A CENTRAL Queensland bird enthusiast says birds are feeling the effects of widespread drought, with arid inland species being spotted in coastal areas in large numbers.

BirdLife Capricornia Secretary Allan Briggs said he had received reports of a flock of 40 budgerigars on Curtis Island.

"In all we have had 25 reports from our members up and down the coast of budgies from Cape Upstart north of Mackay to Lake Callemondah south of Gladstone, with a total number of around 2000 birds," Mr Briggs said.

"Not being able to find water in their normal inland habitat, the budgerigar has moved onto the coast where good rainfall has resulted in full creeks, dams and wetlands."

Mr Briggs said budgerigars preferred spinifex, saltbush and grassy plains with few trees, but would stay close to water and were often seen in trees along water courses. 

"While they can survive periods without water, they are usually never far from it, and large fast flying flocks will fly huge distances to find water," he said.

"While much media attention has been given to the plight of cattle in western and northern parts, birds are also suffering from the widespread drought. 

"But birds, unlike cattle, are free to move around in search of water, and when they arrive in locations where they are not usually seen it is a good indicator that conditions in their normal habitat are quite stressed."