nest abandonment

To: <>
Subject: nest abandonment
From: "Judie Peet" <>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 11:50:51 +1100
A friend who is a carer for injured wildlife was recently called to the aid of nestling Fairy Martins which had been abandoned by the parent birds on a property near Dubbo, in central NSW.
This was a small colony near a farmhouse, and the landowners had been taking an interest in the birds, but not interfering in any way with their activities.  All seemed to be going well, and it was obvious that there were a large number of chicks, when suddenly, without any known reason, ALL of the adult birds failed to return after fying out in the morning.
After waiting for a few days, the farmers called in WIRES, and a rescue of two live chicks was effected. (They are doing well, I am told.)
Can anyone help with information about this behaviour?  Do any other colonial birds abandon a whole colony when there are chicks?  (Other than waterbirds.) The landowners are very upset about this happening, and can't think of any farm activity at that time that could have caused the birds to leave. (I asked about such things as chemical use, a new dog, installation of satellite dish on roof, etc, but came up with zilch.)
Judie Peet
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