Mysterious bird deaths puzzle Western Australians

No infection in Esperance deaths: Tests are continuing on the honeyeaters, yellow-throated miners, silvereyes and wattlebirds that were taken from Esperance, 760km southeast of Perth, where locals first started noticing the deaths before Christmas. So far, autopsies have ruled out any bacterial or viral infections as a cause of death. Esperance has a busy port and is a regional centre for agriculture, which some locals suspect may have played a part in the bird kills. The DEC should know by early next week if the deaths were due to pesticides or toxins.

No link established: At Narembeen, the swallows turned up at a house in the town’s centre between January 3 and January 5. Their appearance coincided with heavy rains that culminated in serious flooding and major stock losses further south. The owner of the house has told authorities that after the rains passed, he swept up the dead birds and took them to the local tip. DEC spokesman Paul Connolly said he did not know if the Esperance and Narembeen incidents were linked.

The Australian, 18/1/2007, p. 3

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