Yellow-throated Miner / Photo by Michael Barritt and Karen May
Officials in the Australian town of Esperance have linked a series of mysterious bird deaths to lead poisoning. Late last year, birds in the town suddenly started dying. Some fell from the sky; others were seen vomiting before they died. Over 4,000 have died since December. The most affected species have been wattle birds, yellow-throated miners, new holland honeyeaters, and singing honeyeaters.
The deaths had gone unexplained as officials looked for other causes. Tests will be necessary to establish lead poisoning for all 4,000 birds. The source of the poisoning has not been confirmed so far. The most likely candidate is the lead carbonate that is shipped into Esperance.
Local residents are upset that the lead poisoning the birds may be poisoning them as well. So far, officials in the town claim that is not the case. We'll see whether that turns out to be true.