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Cockatoos terrorise possum in Melb street

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Luke Costin

Two cockatoos have been filmed hunting down a ringtail possum after going claw-to-claw in a Melbourne street.

The battle began in a tree in North Melbourne but the Sunday afternoon clash didn't end in the branches.

Zoology PhD student Pete Darwin, who filmed the fight, says he has never seen or heard of cockatoos actively pursuing a possum and trying to hunt it down.

He first thought the possum, who at one point gripped the leg of one bird, was the aggressor until the feathered pairing began their tag-team assault.

"The cockatoos kept grabbing it and trying to pull it off the branch and it kept clinging on to things as it fell and standing in the tree," Mr Darwin told AAP.

He headed off shopping only to stumble upon the bout's second round, taking place at a car under the tree.

"I just assumed they pulled it out (of the tree) and chased it under the car but they were surrounding the car - or at least sitting there walking around - and just screeching trying to find it.

"It was so bizarre."

Animal behaviour expert Mark Elgar suspects the cockatoos were protecting a nearby nest and says it isn't unusual for birds to harass, or mob, as a group.

"Basically it's just a means of distracting a potential predator or more likely just trying to keep it out of the vicinity of the nest," Professor Elgar told AAP.

"Clearly the birds saw the possum as a threat and had a go at it ... and successfully too."

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