Palms pruned regardless of PIP nests Cairns Nov 2012

Recently we spoke to Cairns Regional Council staff about avoiding non-urgent tree pruning during the PIP nesting season – see previous post. Council staff assured us that Council’s contractors always check for nests before pruning and postpone work if nests are present.

Reality appears different. The example below suggests Council’s contractors do NOT avoid pruning trees with active nests.

At the end of October Pied Imperial-pigeons were diligently brooding in the nest they had built in the centre of  this tall palm on Cairns Esplanade. A few days later the birds had disappeared and the tree showed fresh pruning cuts, suggesting a disastrous event for this PIP family.

The palm pictured is one of many on the Cairns Esplanade that were pruned between the end of October and early November this year. No urgent need for pruning was apparent. Coconuts, where present, were  in the early stages of development, too small to be hazardous to humans.

It is impossible to determine the number of eggs and chicks lost due to nesting birds being displaced by such pruning. Intensive PIP nesting was in progress and this time of year is also an important nesting period for many other birds.

PLEASE add your voice to ours and ask Cairns Regional Council to schedule tree pruning before and after the nesting season, NOT during this period.    Any naive belief in avoidance of trees with active nests is ineffective for protecting vulnerable birds.

To contact Cairns Regional Council: phone 07 4044 3326 or email






PIP chick fledged at Mackay school Nov 2012

A pair of PIPs have just raised their chick at Glenella State School in Mackay. The photo above was taken on 8 November. The chick left the nest about a week later. These PIPs built their nest surprisingly close to classrooms and play areas. The nest was located near the centre of the photo below.

Many thanks to Maree for nest reports and photos and for guiding the school class on their first PIP watching experience. So far this is the only nest report from Mackay but hopefully Maree and the children will spot more PIP nests.

North Brook Island PIP count Nov 2012

A total of 17,931 PIPs were counted at North Brook Island by Queensland Parks and Wildlife staff and long term count volunteers. This is an encouraging  increase compared to last season’s extremely numbers when the majority of North Brook PIPs had been displaced by devastating habitat disturbance caused by tropical  cyclone Yasi. Thanks to Liz for passing on the good news so promptly!

Low Isles PIP count Nov 2012

A total of  22,829 PIPs were counted at Low Isles by Caretakers Wayne and Jenni with count team Louise, Jas, Deb, Harri, Sophie, Andrew & Julie.  Thanks to all counters and extra thanks to Jenni and Wayne. You can see their frequent updates and lovely photos if you go to their Low Isles Lighthouse facebook page, an easy way to keep up with activities out at the island.

Mission Beach PIP counts Nov 2012

Birdlife NQ conducted their annual Pied Imperial-Pigeon count in the Mission Beach area on 10 November. Teams of volunteers monitored four previously established sites and one new location and counted all PIPs flying out from the mainland between 4:00 and 6:30 PM.

Garners Beach 713; Bingil Bay 422; Wongaling Beach 329; South Mission Beach 412; Kurrimine Boat Ramp 1311

All four established sites had higher counts than last year when extremely low PIP numbers in Nov 2011 could be explained by the extensive habitat damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

Shown above are the annual count totals for Garners Beach, Bingil Bay, Wongaling Beach and South Mission Beach.

The 2012 total for the four sites combined approximated that of 2010, the last pre-Yasi count. Tentatively this might indicate the local PIP habitat has been recovering quite quickly from cyclone damage. However such short term interpretation is uncertain. Year-to-year variation in counts for prior years was high, unrelated to cyclones, so maintaining counts over future years will be important to assess longer term trends.

Kurrimine Beach was counted for the first time this year, thanks to important data received from Neville and June. These alert observers near El Arish recorded flocks of PIPs flying from the ranges in the direction of Kurrimine, a valuable new extension of the Mission Beach PIP counts.




PIP chicks at risk from tree removal and pruning Cairns Nov 2012

PLEASE add your voice to ours and request Cairns Regional Council to schedule tree pruning outside the nesting season and to postpone any unavoidable tree removal until after the nesting season.

Phone 07 4044 3326 or email

Cairns Council is planning to remove trees near the hospital (see photo of notice) and was apparently not aware that many Pied Imperial-Pigeons, also known as Torres Strait Pigeons, are currently breeding there.

Brian recorded at least 10 active PIP nests in the threatened trees at the beginning of November, therefore 10 or more PIP chicks could die if these nest trees are cut down in the near future.

Palms along the Esplanade have also been pruned very recently, presumably without knowledge of the risk to PIPs nesting in some of the palms and many other trees along the Esplanade.

Please express you concerns and ask the Council to schedule palm pruning and other routine tree maintenance  outside the nesting season.