Category Archives: Australian News

‘Millions are dying’: Disturbing photo shows what is killing our native birds

Nadine Carroll Yahoo News Australia 28 October 2019

A magpie has shocked wildlife carers after a clump of tangled plastic and rubber was found inside the sick bird.

The staff at Perth’s Native Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Native ARC) said the bird was “emaciated, lethargic and extremely unwell” when it was bought into the hospital.

After medical care, the bird shocked staff when it passed the large amount of plastic.

“This is what was pooed out by a Magpie in our hospital this week,” the Native ARC staff wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

“Upon inspection the item was a mix of balloon, plastic and rubber band,” the post continued.

The magpie was able to pass the large mass of intertwined rubbish after receiving medical care from the non-profit organisation and is on the road to recovery but Native Arc posted that the bird was one of the “lucky few that made it to medical care”.

The large clump of plastic that was passed by the magpie (left).

The magpie shocked staff when it passed a large clump of tangled plastic (left). Source: Getty stock/Facebook/Native ARC Inc

“It is estimated millions of birds die each year as a result of plastic ingestion,” Native ARC wrote.

The post urged people to do away with balloon releases and be more conscious of littering.

“This is a great example of why balloons and plastic should never be ‘released’ and why we all need to take care in how we dispose of waste.”

The post has been shared almost 1500 times and the majority of people seem to agree that there is nothing to celebrate when balloons are released into the environment.

“How sad. When will people realise how dangerous their abandoned rubbish is to our wildlife,” one person wrote.

“Releasing balloons is so wrong. What’s wrong with people… they only think of themselves and never the consequences of their actions,” another person added.

One person was shocked by how large the clump of rubbish was.

“That’s horrendous,” a user wrote.

“Poor little thing, what are we doing to our planet,” another added.

Native birds in south eastern Australia worst affected by habitat loss

An Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis). More than 60 per cent of the birds of south-east mainland Australia have lost more than half of their natural habitat. Credit: Graham Winterflood.

New research has found that habitat loss is a major concern for hundreds of Australian bird species, and south eastern Australia has been the worst affected. The Threatened Species Recovery Hub study, featuring University of Queensland scientists, found that half of all native bird species have each lost almost two-thirds of their natural habitat across Victoria, parts of South Australia and New South Wales.

Lead researcher, Dr Jeremy Simmonds, said the team looked at both threatened and non-threatened birds, including common species.

“While more attention is usually paid to threatened species, common species, like many of our familiar fairy-wrens, pigeons and honeyeaters, are crucially important,” Dr Simmonds said. “Common species play a vital role in controlling insect pests and pollination and their decline through loss of habitat has implications for the health of ecosystems. Along with feral and invasive species, habitat destruction is among the greatest threats facing biodiversity in Australia, so it is important to understand how big the problem of habitat removal is: our research developed a method to do this, called the Loss Index. 

“We looked at how the amount of habitat available for each of Australia’s 447 different land bird species had changed since 1750. In places like Queensland’s south-east and the Wet Tropics, each hectare of forest cleared can affect up to 180 different native bird species. 

“Habitat loss has been particularly devastating for birds from south-east Australia; more than half of the 262 native birds in this region only have a small fraction of their natural habitat remaining in this part of the country. Northern Australia and Australia’s arid zone have had the least habitat loss, as there has been much less vegetation clearing across that region. We also looked at different bird groups and found that Australia’s parrot species are more impacted by habitat loss, compared with birds of prey, like eagles and owls.”

Dr Simmonds said the index provided a tool for conservation managers and planners to better understand how habitat loss affects all birds, and not just the endangered ones.  

 “It helps to show that every hectare of native vegetation that is removed chips away at remaining habitat for dozens and sometimes hundreds of species, including common species which typically do not receive conservation attention,” he said. The quality of the remaining habitat is often reduced, due to weeds, grazing and changed fire patterns, such as more and hotter fires, and this can further reduce the number and type of birds that an area can support.“

The Loss Index can also be applied to other species like mammals or plants.

The research was conducted by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, a national initiative to undertake science to help save Australia’s threatened species.

It was published in Conservation Biology (DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13331).

Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”


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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)RELATED STORY: Farm worker jailed for 14 days and fined for poisoning 406 wedge-tailed eagles

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

WARNING: This article contains images that people may find disturbing.

Key points:

  • More than 100 animals, mostly wedge-tailed eagles, found in varying stages of decay during raid in regional Victoria
  • Police also found dead joeys, a kookaburra and a cockatoo in a freezer
  • Residents want harsher penalties for people found to have killed native animals for financial gain

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said.

“Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria. Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys. Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock. Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said. “Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region. The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote. “As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said. “Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

Wildlife officer wearing black gloves takes photos of a plastic bag held up by second wildlife officer.

PHOTO: The dead birds were discovered during raid on a property near Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Ms Woodward said farmers needed to be better educated about the role eagles played in the ecosystem.

“The eagles do more good than they do harm, because they kill rabbits and hares and young foxes and feral cats,” she said. “The fact that we have less of them is just a terrible thing because we have more problems with rabbits and hares. It’s causing us to have erosion and all sorts of problems because they’re missing, and farmers need to be educated that they’re not the problem that they think they are.”

Eagle deaths harm environment

The native wedge-tailed eagle — a legally protected species — is on the endangered species list due to a negative stigma that has seen it butchered by farmers in the past. All native birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and deliberately killing them carries a penalty of up to $39,652 and/or six to 24 months’ imprisonment.

Mr Chant said there was a common misconception that the eagles swooped down and carried livestock away, adding that he was concerned the killings were impacting the bird population.

“I’d like to think this [is the only case], because if it’s more widespread than we think, well the impact it’s having on wedge-tail populations in Victoria might not be sustainable for much longer if we keep seeing these mass killings.”

He said he believed that in the absence of the dominant eagle, other birds were attracted to the area which was causing more birds to die.

“It’s horrific. Our officers have taken this job on because they have a love and a deep appreciation for nature, and to be walking across paddocks and finding the iconic eagle species dead and curled up in paddocks, it’s quite difficult.

“We’re very keen to determine why these eagles died or how they died, and we are very determined to find out who is responsible for this activity.”

No charges have been laid and the department is still investigating.


ARTIFICIAL TREES CAPTURE NEW BIRD SPECIES ON CANDID CAMERA

The Australian National University, Canberra

An experiment from The Australian National University (ANU) using artificial trees has attracted birds and other wildlife never before seen in a damaged Canberra landscape – catching them on camera at the same time.   

The experiment is a collaboration with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and uses a series of power poles and translocated dead trees erected in landscape under regeneration.

The ANU researchers saw a four-fold increase in bird species on five recently erected power-poles. There was also a seven-fold increase in bird species across five re-purposed dead trees.

In a separate project on the same site, the birds were captured on motion-sensitive cameras hidden in the artificial structures, with the footage providing a public database for species activity.

Associate Professor Philip Gibbons from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society wanted to test whether artificial structures could be used to provide a home for birds and other wildlife when mature trees were cut down for residential and other development.

He says the artificial trees work better than he “could have ever hoped for”.

“Even if we plant new trees elsewhere to replace those we knock down they take a century to mature and develop suitable habitats for birds and wildlife,” Associate Professor Gibbons said.

“Globally, mature trees are in decline and we’re going to see an absence of mature trees in some landscapes by the end of this century. So these artificial structures are really key to filling that gap to preserve the ecosystem.

“And from what we can see they work. Not only did they attract birds to the landscape, but they also provided a home for ladybirds, wood spiders and microbats.”

Associate Professor Gibbons said the artificial trees weren’t a “cure-all”.

“The structures can only do so much and we found 37 per cent of bird species that live in mature forests did not venture into the artificial structures,” he said.

“We need to preserve as many mature trees as we can, continue to plant more new seedlings for the future and then raise these artificial structures if we are to mitigate this deficit of mature trees for future generations.

“At the end of the day, you can’t beat real trees. But they can take years to grow. So this is a great option in areas needing regeneration or while you wait for trees to mature.”    

The study area, a 50-hectare site at Barrer Hill in the Molonglo Valley, has been set aside for regeneration to offset mature trees and other native vegetation cleared for new suburbs.

The final piece of the restoration project was a “living art sculpture” created from a 400-year old yellow box tree cut down in a nearby suburb and re-erected in the offset site.

Dr Mitchell Whitelaw from the ANU School of Art worked with American architect Joyce Hwang from University of Buffalo and Darren Le Roux of ACT Parks to install motion-sensitive cameras into the tree-sculpture.

They’ve captured images of more than 23 bird and animal species using the structures including a peregrine falcon, nankeen kestrel and tawny frogmouth.

More common species such as crimson and eastern rosellas, starlings, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, galahs, red wattlebirds, willie wagtails, red-rumped parrots, kookaburras, bats and marsupials are also using the structures.  

See Dr Whitelaw’s database of pictures and videos on the Molongolo Life website.

People can watch and contribute to the content by tagging and identifying species.

“As well as some delightful and beautiful images, we’ve caught footage of a currawong raiding a starling’s nest. This is the sort of action in nature people just don’t get to see every day,” Dr Whitelaw said.

“The database is a real-time record of the restoration of an ecosystem. We want people to feel connected to these public places and the wildlife in them.”

Wind turbines ‘an extinction threat’ for birds

MATTHEW DENHOLM THE AUSTRALIAN

The critically endangered Swift Parrot. Picture: Norm Oorloff
The critically endangered Swift Parrot. Picture: Norm Oorloff

Regulators should consider the cumulative impacts of wind farms on birds before approving new turbines, or risk driving species to ­extinction, a prominent conservation ecologist warns.

Jamie Kirkpatrick, from the University of Tasmania, yesterday said federal and state environmental assessments typically ­examined the impact on threatened species of single projects only. “This is really a failure of the process because one swift parrot here or one eagle there is not of great moment, but when you have it repeated and repeated you soon get to a critical level,” Professor Kirkpatrick said.

In Tasmania, 10 new wind farms are proposed or under construction, adding to a number of existing major turbine sites, three of which have killed at least 37 eagles since 2002. There are fears the wind farm boom will push endangered species such as the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, swift parrot and orange-bellied parrot closer to extinction.

Professor Kirkpatrick urged the federal and state governments to ensure assessment of the new projects considered the wider impact of similar developments on bird populations.

Wind farms are typically ­approved on the condition proponents take measures to mitigate or offset expected impacts on local threatened bird species.

Professor Kirkpatrick said this did not address the bigger picture of wind farm impacts: “The individual small impacts of each one is theoretically bearable but when you consider the cumulative ­impact, they are not. It’s only when you start adding them up and look at the overall fecundity of that species that it starts to become ­really concerning.”

Tasmanian Environment Minister Peter Gutwein defended the adequacy of existing state ­assessments: “Large-scale wind farm developments are subject to rigorous assessments and environmental approvals, with the ­opportunity for public submissions. The government has complete confidence in the ability of the independent Environment Protection Agency to assess any major wind farm proposals.”

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the impact of wind farms on threatened species was already a “key factor” in assessment: “A proposed wind farm development is not considered in isolation. In regions where there are a number of wind farms, existing levels of impact on threatened bird species may be considered.

“When a nationally listed bird species is in small numbers nationally, or its distribution or habitat is limited, or if the habitat has particular importance for the species, wind farm activity could have a significant impact, and this is taken into account.”

Last month, The Weekend Australian revealed Woolnorth Wind Farm Holdings’ two sites in the state’s northwest had recorded three eagle deaths in the past few months. It was also ­revealed the company’s wider operations, including a third wind farm in the state’s northeast, had combined recorded the deaths of 32 wedge-tailed eagles and five white-bellied sea eagles since the first site began operating in 2002-04.

Richard Hill’s mission to save south-west’s endangered red-tailed black cockatoo

Picture: Bob McPherson

Richard Hill shifted to Casterton 21 years ago with his family to study the region’s endangered red-tailed black cockatoo, and he’s never looked back. As a senior biodiversity officer with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), his mission is to preserve the unique bird.

“It’s been a 21-year project looking at and understanding the cockatoo, how rare it is and what the causes of their decline are,” Mr Hill said. “My aim is to stop it from going extinct.

“This area has a really small population of about 1500 and it’s in decline. It’s quite endangered in small parts of south-west Victoria and South Australia. 

“They’re a very unique sub-species only found in this small part of south-west Victoria.”

He is part of a larger recovery team for the cockatoo. 


“There are lots of people working trying to help the cockatoo. DELWP and what I do is a small part of that,” he said. 

A major part of his work here is helping with the annual count, organised by Birdlife Australia, where willing and able volunteers head out in fleets of vehicles to track the birds and monitor their population numbers.

“The count involves up to 80 vehicles and is all done by volunteers. I’ve been doing that for 21 years,” he said.  “We try and find where the birds are and how many there are, that produces a ballpark figure – it’s not completely accurate because it’s very hard to count them in flocks. “That can happen over 20 nights but it’s the best information we have.”

He said the red-tailed black cockatoos were disappearing at high rates. 

“The bird is in decline, and now we’re trying to find out why,” he said. “The rate of decline has steepened in the last five years and we really need to work out if there’s something new we have missed. “We understand their food sources are declining and we are planting lots of trees to arrest that decline. “There might be other things affecting the birds, so we are about to launch new studies into what causes breeding success and how to help them in the wild.”

Annual count: Dick Cooper searching for red-tailed black cockatoos in an old redgum tree near Casterton with Richard Hill in 2001. Picture: Sandy Scheltema

 Annual count: Dick Cooper searching for red-tailed black cockatoos in an old redgum tree near Casterton with Richard Hill in 2001. Picture: Sandy Scheltema

Mr Hill suspects climate change is a large contributing factor to the decline of the species.

“Climate change really is the elephant in the room for this species because it depends on the eucalyptus trees,” he said. They get seeds of a couple of species of eucalypt and their flowering appears to be linked with rainfall. Climate change may be causing them to produce less feed, we have to try and diagnose it because they are critical resources. We need to look at the ecology and find out what’s going on.”

Birds have always been Mr Hill’s passion.

“Birds are my thing, I did my masters on owls on Christmas Island and I’ve been studying birds for most of my working life,” he said.

Mr Hill and his team are looking for volunteers for the next annual count.

“The annual count takes place at the start of May and we’re always looking for people to help with that,” he said. “We’re also looking for private properties to plant more trees for the birds to feed and nest.”

Those interested are asked to contact the Birdlife coordinator on 1800 262 062.

Endangered: The red-tailed black cockatoo. Picture: Richard Hill

 Endangered: The red-tailed black cockatoo. Picture: Richard Hill

Birds with ‘blood coming out of their mouths’ fall from sky, on to primary school grounds

Elizabeth Henson, The AdvertiserJuly 12, 2019 8:54pm

Some of the Corellas that were suspected of being poisoned. Picture: Caspers Bird Rescue.

At least 50 birds with “blood coming out of their mouths” have fallen from the sky and landed in a primary school north of Adelaide, horrifying young students.

The RSPCA, the Environment and Water Department and the Primary Industries and Regions Department are investigating the incident that occurred at One Tree Hill Primary School, in front of children in Out of School Hours and Vacation Care at the site, on Wednesday afternoon. The school posted on its Facebook page that there were “no survivors,” saying the wild corellas were believed to have been poisoned.

“I received a distressing phone call from a worker at school who was finding the very sick birds all over the school,” the post read. The children in vacation care were very upset at the scene of birds falling from the sky and in pain with blood coming out of their mouths.”

“The children were so caring and wanted to make sure the birds were getting some help.”

The post went on to thank the local wildlife rescue organisation – Caspers Bird Rescue – for attending the school and collecting the birds. Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Jess King, 26, told The Advertiser authorities needed to get to the bottom of how the mass death occurred.

“Somebody needs to answer as to what has happened,” she said. “Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, you don’t just go throwing poison down (recklessly).”

Ms King said Caspers Bird Rescue took the birds to veterinarians in Para Hills and Roseworthy for treatment, however all but one to be euthanased.

“There was no way to treat them – they’ve all ingested so much,” she said. “It’s quite devastating to be completely honest.”

“In the five and a half years we’ve been active…we have not seen something like this before and neither have the vets.”

Initially, the school believed all of the birds had died. However, Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Sarah King said one corella had survived against all odds.

“That’s pretty amazing,” she said. “Unless you get a bird that you literally see (eat poison), there’s not much you can do.”

However, Ms King said the bird’s condition was still precarious.

An RSPCA spokeswoman confirmed the RSPCA was investigating the incident but said it was too early to speculate on the cause. An Environment Department spokeswoman said the agency was also investigating the incident in collaboration with PIRSA.

“A disease investigation is underway,” she said. “Samples are being retained for potential toxin testing, which would take several weeks to complete.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said the department had been in contact with the school about the matter.

“This is a concerning situation,” she said. “We are reaching out to the school to offer any support they require.”

A Playford Council spokesman said the council did not use poison as part of its bird control measures.

“In the past two years, the City of Playford, has invested significant resources into non-lethal strategies to deal with marauding Little Corella flocks with limited success,” he said. “These non-lethal measures, last undertaken in 2018, included use of a predatory hawk and gas guns. At no time has council implemented any measures that include the use of poison.”