Re: Nightjars dying in Townsville

To: Alex Appleman <>
Subject: Re: Nightjars dying in Townsville
From: Ian Temby <>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 16:17:08 -0712 (EDT)
On Wed, 30 Apr 1997 08:26:24 +1000 Alex Appleman 
<> wrote:
>Each year white throated nightjars migrate through Townsville, stopping off at 
suitable habitat such as the Palmetum or Town Common.  However last year 18 
birds were found roosting high on the steel rafters in the Queensland Rail 
Workshops in South Townsville. Presumably they had been attracted by the 
lights and insect life there. Some eventually left but most remained and died.
>This year 6 white throated nightjars have been seen at the workshops, in very 
poor condition.  The cause of their demise is something of a mystery.  Are they 
just disoriented and afraid?  During the day the workshops resonate with rivet 
guns, oxy acetylene torches etc.
>One theory is that the workshop  itself is the killer being impregnated to 
levels with DDT in the 1950's.
>Any suggestions on how the tragedy can be avoided next year?

Dear Alex

Cause of death seems to be a mystery, but if it is related to the fact that the 
birds roost in the sheds, then the following may be useful.  

I have had success with excluding (un)Welcome Swallows from a large 
warehouse where they were roosting in their thousands and decorating finished 
timber products below.  This was achieved by stringing nylon monofilament line 
(fishing line) along the length of the warehouse,  just below the steel beam 
supports, at 12 cm intervals.  This spacing was necessary to prevent the birds 
flying up between the lines to perch on wire mesh just below the roofing 
The swallows were effectively excluded from roosting sites they had used for 
some years by this means.  This strategy was implemented after many other 
suggestions were tried and failed, for a variety of reasons.


Ian Temby
Wildlife Damage Control Officer
Secretary, BIRDS Australia Parrot Association
Flora and Fauna Branch
Department of Natural Resources and Environment
4/250 Victoria Parade

Phone   613 9412 4429
Fax     613 9412 4586

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