Sudden bird deaths

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Sudden bird deaths
From: Keith Stockwell <>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 12:54:37 +1100

On 8th February Chris Coleborn from Cohuna wrote:
>When the big low hit northern Victoria last week, the temperature here
>dropped within a matter of hours from 40 degrees to 10 degrees - a
>difference of 30 decrees! Hundreds of cows suddenly died as a result of the
>shock. One of the other consequences I have seen and heard of from others
>are the considerable number of birds that also appear to have died as a
>result of what appears to have been a traumatic blow to the physiology of
>the birds. Numbers of dead Welcome Swallows, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Diamond
>Firetails, Zebra Finches, Sparrows, Blackbirds etc are to be seen. Has
>anyone else noted this phenomena?

This morning, Sunday 13th February, Echuca-Moama district observers planned
an early morning birding around the town but much of the bushland close to
town was closed (or too noisy to visit) owing to a water ski race. So we
visited a private property on the edge of town, away from the Murray
River,and observed about 45 species.

Whilst on the outing, I asked if anyone had noticed dead birds.  The
property owner produced a dead Sacred Kingfisher which died during the cold
snap. He said that several Welcome Swallows had perished. There were scores
and scores of Tree Martins on the property and it may have been some of the
Martins which had perished rather than Welcome Swallows.

During the cold snap, one of our number observed dead young Silvereyes in a
nest at Rochester.

Another reported that the Rainbow Birds have left the Tongala area much
earlier than normal (the birds usually leave about or just prior to Easter).

A farmer told me he had lost a heifer and that neighbouring farmers had
also lost stock.

Apparently one Western district grazier lost about 1,000 sheep even though
farmers from as far afield as 60km helped him gather sheep and transfer
them to neighbouring wool sheds and out buildings.

So the cold snap which hit southern NSW (Southern Riverina) and Victoria
certainly resulted in bird deaths as well as stock losses.

Ironically, as this is usually the hottest time of the year in this region
(with maximum temperatures hovering around 35 degrees C day after day), a
few of us decided to spend last week at Lorne (west coast of Victoria) to
escape the heat. Some of the birds we observed around Lorne included Rufous
Bristlebird (near Airey's Inlet Lighthouse), Bassian Thrush (Moggs Creek)
and lots of White-throated Needletails (along coast at Lorne).

Now we have returned home, the hot weather may arrive!

Keith Stockwell
Moama NSW (200km north of Melbourne)

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