Spilled grain attracts cockatoos to railway tracks

A number of cockatoos have been hit by trains after eating grain which spilled from a freight train on to the track near Springwood and Valley Heights.

Local Lindsey Gray said she saw dozens of cockatoos as well as crimson rosellas and long-billed corella eating the grain and the grasses which had sprouted from it.

Dr Gray, who works in the School of LIfe and Environmental Sciences at Sydney University, said she had spotted the huge flock of cockatoos one afternoon.

“I was on my way home driving toward the roundabout on Macquarie Road and noticed literally hundreds of birds congregating in three patches on the northern side of the line. It seemed odd.

“I saw piles of freshly spilt wheat and previously spilt wheat that had germinated. The germinated wheat indicates the spill has been happening for weeks.

“Several trains came along and ploughed straight into the flocks without sounding their horns. It must be distressing for the drivers.”

She rescued one of the birds but it later had to be put down. She also knew of at least three others who had to be euthanased by local vets.

Dr Gray was determined to find out how the spill happened to avoid a recurrence. She called Sydney Trains, Transport for NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the EnviroLine and

Eventually, after numerous phone calls and emails, railway workers cleared the grain from the track.

A spokesman for Sydney Trains said they once they had been made aware of the spill, track crews had removed the grain.

He also said train drivers were required to sound their horn for safety reasons, including as a warning if there are animals on the track or when a risk is present.

He added: “Sydney Trains has reminded freight operators of their requirement to ensure rolling stock has secured loads when travelling on our network,” he said.

A dead cockatoo on the tracks near Springwood.

A dead cockatoo on the tracks near Springwood.

Cockatoo feasting on the spilled grain beside the train tracks at Springwood.

Cockatoo feasting on the spilled grain beside the train tracks at Springwood.