A FAMILY of native welcome swallows has been killed and its nests destroyed in what has been described as a senseless act by RSPCA regional inspector Julia Steley.
More than a dozen dead birds and 16 injured chicks were found among broken nests and feather clumps in a secure location underneath the Southside Town Centre this week.
The RSPCA was alerted to the matter late Wednesday afternoon, after local wildlife carer Denise Sterling received 11 live fledglings and juveniles in one day.
Another chick was found on Thursday beneath the rubble after Mrs Steley heard soft chirping while inspecting the site.
The circumstances of the incident are still under investigation and the perpetrators not yet found, but Mrs Steley believes the desecration of the nests may have occurred on Sunday.
She suspects a parent bird may have been returning to the site to feed a juvenile found on Wednesday.
"It's hard to know how this little guy is still alive. Normally when they can't fly they die quite quickly due to the fact they feed almost every two hours," she said.
"The nests look like they had been here for about 12 months; down here is the perfect spot for nesting. The birds would have been safe from predators and they weren't bothering anyone."
It is believed those responsible entered the area via a ladder used to unload trucks at Woolworths.
The damage appears to have been caused by rocks being thrown at five different nesting sites.
This incident comes after the area was secured following an arson incident in late 2012.
Mrs Steley said if found, those responsible for the destruction would face charges under both the Animal Care and Protection Act and the Nature Conservation Act, due to the fact that welcome sparrows are a native species.
She said while the Gympie region did not have many incidents of animal cruelty, the RSPCA was forced to regularly investigate reports of animal neglect in the area.
Mrs Steley has urged anyone who knows anything about the incident to come forward by contacting 1300ANIMAL.