Childcare centre 'infested' with ibis - but the council won't help

Pre-school staff are concerned about the health and safety of the children and have already spent thousands cleaning the poo from the property.

A Sydney childcare centre has expressed its frustration over a flock of ibis birds that continues to pose a threat to the children's health and safety because of their droppings.

Katherine Frankland, director of The Cubbyhouse Pre-school in Menai, told Yahoo News Australia the "ridiculous infestation" has been ongoing for three years, but says the council won't do anything to help resolve the problem which is costing the centre a few hundred dollars a week.

ibis birds flying around grassed area in front of the childcare centre in Menai.
A flock of ibis birds hang around the childcare centre in Menai, in Sydney's southern suburbs. Source: Supplied.

The reason is that ibis birds are native to Australia and therefore protected under National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. This means the bird can not be removed from the area, or its habitat destroyed, according to the Sutherland Shire Council — which to date has offered no other solution.

They've merely suggested trimming the branches that hang over the fence into the playground — because the trees can't be removed — but Katherine says that's done nothing to solve the problem.

"They roost all in the trees above the service, so the next morning we come in and there's just poo everywhere. We have to clean that before the kids can go outside because babies crawl around," she told Yahoo, adding the smell is "horrendous".

Ibis droppings on footpath (left) Two ibis birds (right)
The ibis birds are protected species so council won't step in and help. Source: Supplied/Getty

Ibis issue leaves centre thousands out of pocket

Katherine said they're spending roughly $300 a week on cleaning the area which is considered council land. Another childcare facility next door was forced to close because of the same issue which they couldn't afford to maintain.

"We have to pay for pressure washers to come in two, three times a week — but the birds come back at night. We just can't afford to keep doing that because we're a not-for-profit service," she said. "Our funds should be going to supporting these vulnerable families we help support, but instead we're paying to clean the yard."

Flock of Ibis birds on roof of building and on grass.
The issue has been ongoing for three years with childcare staff forced to clean up every day. Source: Supplied

Dying ibis in children's playground

The issue is compounded by the dying ibis often being found lying in the playground. Katherine says staff are forced to take them to the vet to be euthanised, but it just keeps happening.

Her main concern is the children's health and safety but also the centre's viability. At least one staff member is occupied daily by the continuous mess, which means there's one less educator working with the children.

The centre has already had to increase its fees slightly for various reasons, but the ibis being one. "What has to give for us to provide a safe and clean environment for those children?" Katherine said.

Ibis bird poo on bench seat and footpath.
Childcare staff clean the droppings every day before children arrive. Source: Supplied

Desperate plea for help with ibis problem

Shire Animal Rescue told Yahoo News "there are plenty of options" to solve the problem "without causing injury to these beautiful birds". They suggested trying deterrent methods such as green laser, spotlights or a faux hawk — but these have not worked, Katherine said.

"I just would like some support from Sutherland Shire Council or some alternatives that would ensure that we can still remain viable," Katherine says. "I don't want the birds killed necessarily, but surely there's a way we can deter them from this space."

Yahoo News Australia also contacted Sutherland Shire Council for comment.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.