Thousands of mutton birds have died from exhaustion.
Thousands of mutton birds have died from exhaustion. DALE PAGETAAP

Storms to blame for bird deaths

RAINBOW Beach has been spared the worst of the recent spate of mutton bird deaths along the coastline of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Despite sightings of birds washed up on beaches on Fraser Island, the Sunshine Coast and Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, only one had been reported to Rainbow Beach life guards yesterday.

It had been found along the Inskip Point ocean beach.

Wildlife experts yesterday said the birds were victims of fierce storm conditions in the northern hemisphere, as they fly on their annual migration from northern Russia to south-eastern Australia.

Weather conditions have been described as extreme from Japan to the Philippines and the birds have been confirmed as having died from exhaustion.

Millions of the birds fly to breeding sites in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia each year and it is thought that deaths from exhaustion may number in the thousands.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of Environment and Resource Management, yesterday arranged for some of the birds to be tested to ensure they had not died from any unwanted diseases which may threaten other Australian wildlife or even humans.

Yesterday a spokesperson confirmed that “tests carried out on dead short-tailed shearwater or mutton birds have confirmed that they died of exhaustion.

“Their store of energy was depleted as they encountered difficult conditions on their long migratory journey,” a spokesperson said.

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