Muttonbirds' deaths natural
DESPITE rumours circulating yesterday, there may not be anything sinister behind the discovery of up to 14 dead wedgetailed shearwaters, or muttonbirds, on Muttonbird Island.
Walkers were quick to point the finger at a fox but volunteer bander Neil Vaughan said no foxes had been detected on the island.
“During April and early May the birds migrate to the Northern Hemisphere and many of the younger birds on the island would not have eaten since their parents left.
“They must drop down to around 400g so they can take off and many are weak.”
Because they are a flock animal, they band together and leave the island in small groups and sometimes perish in small groups.
“Most of the time it is a natural event with the fittest surviving but they are also vulnerable to swamp rats and birds of prey.
“If you see a sick-looking or dead muttonbird on the island, leave it there, it is part of a natural ecosystem and they will fertilise the ground.”
While people are advised to leave the birds on Muttonbird Island, at this time of year, it’s not uncommon to find them around town and in this case WIRES should be called.
The muttonbirds use stars to navigate and are attracted to white light, explaining why they often turn up at BCU International Stadium.
Disorientated birds are most likely to be found during the next month.
If you find one away from its natural environment, please call WIRES on 1300 094 737 .