SURROUNDED by hundreds of squawking white corellas, Leo happily scatters seeds on the footpaths around Caboolture's Centenary Lakes.
Three times a week, he drives to the park in his mobility scooter because, as he sees it, "someone's got to feed the birds".
"It's better than spending your money on the pokies," he says as he throws another handful to the feathered rabble.
The white flocks of little corellas, a relative of the sulphur crested cockatoo, are a ubiquitous site in the Caboolture area, as they are throughout much of South East Queensland.
But it wasn't always this way, according to Griffith University School of Environment Professor Darryl Jones.
Prof Jones said while it was difficult to pin point an exact time the corellas first arrived, it was likely about 10 years ago, due to worsening drought conditions in inland Australia.
"Their normal distribution is inland of the coast, all of middle of Australia, where grains grow," he said.
"They've been real beneficiaries of the grain industry.
"[Their arrival] is primarily driven by drought."
Data on the impact of the rise of the corellas in coastal areas is lacking, but Prof Jones said it was likely the birds would be having an impact on other native species.
"Big birds, if they breed, need big tree hollows and we know big hollows, for a fact, are in short supply," he said.
"Things like gliders, possums, and lorikeets would have normally bred in large hollows so when thousands of corellas are looking, there's going to be competition."
Prof Jones also doused the myth the corellas had appeared on the coast due to aviary escapees.
"They're naturally found slightly west [of Caboolture], so it's not really a big surprise they've come in," the academic said.
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