Friday, February 09, 2007

Thousands Of Birds Dying In Huge Clusters In Western Australia

Why? "Extreme Weather"

Thousands of birds have been, literally, dropping from the skies over towns in Western Australia over the past two months, and no-one seems to know why.

While finding a dead bird in your yard isn't unusual, find a few dozen certainly is, but this was the experience of people in the WA town of Esperance in December, 2006.

Now it's happening again, in other towns.

There were reasonable fears that the birds were dying of avian influenza, but that has apparently been ruled out, as has other viruses and poisonings.

The best WA's Department of Environment and Conservation has been able to come up with to explain the bizarre bird deaths has been "extreme weather".

From the :
More mass bird deaths have been reported in Western Australia but authorities do not believe they are related to the mystery scourge that killed thousands of birds in the state's south.

WA's Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has been unable to determine what killed up to 4,000 nectar-eating birds in and around Esperance between December 7 and January 2.

The birds, mostly yellow-throated miners, wattle birds, new Holland honeyeaters and silvereyes, plus some seagulls and pigeons, were found dead near water sources such as sprinklers and water tanks.

The DEC said bird viruses and bacteriological causes had been ruled out as the cause of death and toxins were still the most likely culprit.

DEC Nature Protection Branch manager Dave Mell said the department had recently received reports of groups of dead birds - up to as many as 200 - at Yealering, Kellerberrin, Cunderdin, Kulin and Kukerin, in the state's wheatbelt.

But Mr Mell said he did not believe the deaths were related to those around Esperance.

"The recent deaths have coincided with high temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius and strong winds, and we believe it's most likely the deaths can be attributed to the extreme weather conditions," Mr Mell said.