19 Aug 2010

Plague of squawking cockatoos shatter rural peace

3:43 pm on 19 August 2010

A quiet farming town in the Australian state of Queensland has been inundated by a plague of squawking cockatoos.

The peanut harvest has attracted the birds which are making a mess of Atherton, in Far North Queensland and driving locals mad with their noise.

They are not as frightening as the birds in the famous Hitchcock movie, but the cockatoos in Atherton have reached plague proportions, the ABC reports.

Local councillor Len Curtis says he's never seen anything like it.

"You can see like a thousand in one field. When we harvest our peanuts, there's always some left and it attracts the birds into town.

"They used to go back up into the hills at night time to sleep, but now it's not worth flying - things are too good."

It's the unmistakable sound of the cockatoo squawk magnified that's attracting complaints.

Mr Curtis says the birds are at their worst around the showgrounds, the rest home and at the hospital, where he has seen up to 100 on the roof "making a terrible racket".

On Wednesday, the Tablelands Regional Council was finally given the go-ahead to use non-lethal means to try to disperse the flock.

For the next month as well as squawking, Atherton residents will have to put up with sirens, air horns and scare guns.