Bin Chicken Island – Melbourne, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Bin Chicken Island

This island at Coburg Lake Reserve is home to a sizable, very visible colony of Australian white ibis. 


Bin chickens have made their way into the Macquarie Dictionary otherwise known by the scientific name Threskiornis molucca, or the common name white ibis. From the dictionary to a small island in a Melbourne suburban park, people both love and loathe them.

Ibis have entered the Australian English lexicon as, “tip turkeys,” “sandwich snatchers,” and “picnic pirates.” But “bin chickens” are their most common name, due to the habit of raiding rubbish bins for sustenance.

With three species native to Australia, these birds have been migrating to urban areas along the east coast of Australia since the 1970s. As a native Australian bird, they are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. White ibis were first recorded in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in 2009. There has been a rapid expansion of the ibis population between 2018-2020. Since then, there has been a growth in the colony of these birds. As a protected habitat the island is perfect for the ibis. In addition, the birds play an important role in natural pest management as they eat small insects, grubs, and fish. The white ibis also usually nest between October and March. 

The community has raised concerns about the noise, smell, and behavior of the colony, as well as its impact on the reserve’s environment and amenities including damage to vegetation and a reduction in other bird species. It looks like the “bin chickens” are winning the fight on the small island as with many urban areas for now.

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