Apostle birds dying, should I do anything?

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0ochello0's picture
Apostle birds dying, should I do anything?

I'm home from uni for a few weeks and am staying at my parents farm about an hour from Dubbo NSW. Today I was on my way to the chook pen when I found a sick Apostle bird on the ground. He can hardly move, doesnt make any noise, and looks dizzy, sort of turning his head round and round as if following something that isnt there. I had a look around in the grass and found 12 more dead apostle birds spead around the paddock. Some had been dead for a few days but others had only just died. I think thats just about the whole mob of them dead. I did see one left alive trying to fly around but you could tell it was on the way out as well.
I remember the same thing happening about this time last year. I figured they must have been killed by some poison grain that was being used to kill pigs, but i never thought theyd be able to get into that and wasnt so sure. Now that its happening again I wonder if maybe they have a disease.

Is there anything I should do to find out what's killing them? Has anyone heard of this happening before? I love the apostles, its so sad to see them all go!

DenisWilson's picture

Hi 0ochello0
Seems you have discovered the answer top the mystery problem yourself.
I have observed birds poisoned as a result of spraying to kill mosquito larvae on a lake in Canberra many years ago. In that case, they typically moved their heads and necks in a strange way, bending up and backwards. They stiffened and then died.
Prevention sounds like the way ahead.
Try to find a better way to remove pigs. I suggest you talk to a local vet about better control measures on pigs (if there are any).
Is it possible to control the manner of distributing the bait for the pigs? Or find a bait less attractive to native birds and animals?
Your Apostle Birds are generally insectivorous as far as I know, but in the Dubbo region all your native Pigeons and Parrots are grain feeders.
I would be surprised if the accidental kill is restricted to Apostle Birds.
I strongly urge a review of the baiting practice.
Hope you can work out a solution.

daggert's picture

I wonder if the authorities know that they are poisoning these birds, as well as pigs.

BryanT's picture

You might call NSW Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service (WIRES) at 1300 094 737 for assistant.
Good luck!


0ochello0's picture

The birds were not poisoned by pig grain. We are not baiting this year and there is no poison grain around. I just initially assumed last year that the grain was what caused it, but now that its happening again I dont think so.

The pig poisoning was carried out by a registered officer, they ensure grain is only accessible to wild animals at night and covered during the day to prevent birds feeding on it.

I know the apostle birds eat grain, theyre always in the chook pen eating the wheat, as are the pidgeons and galahs. If they were poisoned by graid id expect to see many other speacies of dead bird.

DenisWilson's picture

But it sounds like they are dying in un-naturally high numbers.
Something is killing them.

0ochello0's picture

I realise that, but is there anything I can do to find out what it is?

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