Sydney’s notorious ibis birds, better known as bin chickens or trash turkeys, are constantly making a nuisance of themselves scavenging through bins and creating mess throughout the city.

Now it’s finally been revealed why we have the infamous dirty bird in such huge numbers.

Sydney’s ibis population is currently estimated around the 10,000 mark (though sometimes it feels like there’s millions of them!) and it appears that Taronga Zoo may be behind the high numbers of dumpster divers. 

In the early 70s, the zoo launched an experimental breeding program encouraging the Australian white ibis to roost in their grounds near Sydney Harbour.

In 1973, just 19 ibis were held at the zoo and were encouraged to breed, with a report from 1973 claiming the birds as being “among the most graceful and decorative of Australian birds”.


How times have changed.

Dr Richard Major from the Australian Museum, has been studying the birds for 34 years and says while it might would be unfair to blame Taronga, it is reasonable to suspect its program helped the birds adapt to city life.

“The birds had visited Sydney in the past, and there are records of birds in the 1970s visiting Sydney, [but] there are no breeding records in Sydney until the 1980s,” he said.

“Maybe it’s reasonable to suspect that that was a nucleation point in Sydney that encouraged birds to stay and work out how to capitalise on an urban landscape.” 



WSFM 101.7 Sydney