Birds are pecking apart Australia's national broadband network

Everything in Australia wants to kill you and if they can't find flesh, telco cabling will do

Sulphur-crested cockatoo
A sulphur-crested cockatoo. Note enormous, sharp, murderous, beak. And evil eyes.

Australia's national broadband network (NBN) is being pecked apart by birds.

nbn?, the company building and operating the NBN, has revealed that “native parrots have recently been found feasting on spare power and fibre cables strung from NBN Co's near 2,000 Fixed-Wireless towers”.

The company has used a picture of a sulphur-crested cockatoo to illustrate its announcement. The species is infamous for trashing anything it decides to have a go at. A flock can strip a tree in a couple of hours, either to find food or to hone their murderous beaks.

It's therefore unsurprising that the birds have taken to cables.

Thankfully, nbn? says they've so far destroyed only spare cables installed for future upgrades. Live cables are armoured: Australian telcos are alive to the avian threat.

nbn?'s oversight on its spare cables has so far seen eight damaged sites and a repair bill of AU$80,000. The company thinks another 200 sites may have been bitten which, given costs of the network have already blown out by AU$20bn over previous estimates, is an unwelcome extra expense.

The company is therefore installing plastic boxes to house the spare cables and repel the winged menaces, at a cost of $14 apiece. ?

Birdnote: Your correspondent earned university beer money by working in pet shops and one hungover Saturday morning, walked in to find a sulphur-crested cockatoo had come into stock. It was just about screeching the place down with non-stop cries that would have drowned out a low-flying 747. I was told it was juvenile that needed to be fed. This was accomplished by watering down wheat-based breakfast cereal into a foul paste, adding honey, scooping the lot into a ketchup squeeze bottle and squirting the resulting mess into the bird's maw.

As the bird was young, this task needed doing three times a day, or more often if it started screaming. This happened in-between all the other cleaning of poop, dredging up of dead fish, and being bitten by smaller parrots as I shoved them into boxes so that customers could take them home. I wore a thick leather glove to catch the beasts and their beaks could easily inflict pain even through that barrier. Such fond memories!


Biting the hand that feeds IT ? 1998–2017