More than 60 birds have died after “falling from the sky” in a suspected case of poisoning in South Australia, rescuers say. The animals – two species of corella – were discovered near a sports ground in Adelaide on Tuesday and Wednesday. At least 57 of the birds were long-billed corellas, which is a protected species.
The deaths are being investigated by government departments. Some of the birds were found in distress and taken to two veterinarians, but they were unable to be saved. “The scene looked like a horror movie,” said Caspar’s Bird Rescue founder Sarah King, who was among those called to the scene.
“The birds weren’t able to fly and were lying on the ground wailing in pain. Some birds were bleeding out of their mouth. That immediately made us think of poisoning, which we’ve seen before.” The state’s Department for Environment and Water said the cause was not yet confirmed. “Disease and toxin testing is under way and will take several weeks to complete,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.
One veterinarian who saw the birds, Trudy Seidel, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “more than likely they have been poisoned”. Both long-billed corellas and short-billed corellas were found – the former is a protected species and perpetrators of unlawful killings can receive fines or even jail time. The local council has previously called for short-billed corellas to be culled because the native species has been blamed for causing damage to crops and chewing on street lights.
Ms King said if the birds were poisoned, she hoped that the toxicology report could help trace its origin. “It’s a typical requirement that people must register when they purchase a poison,” she said.