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!

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