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Close call !

March 18, 2013

Australian White Ibis (deceased)

Here’s an unusual little tale from further afield. Sue McNair, Environment Project Officer with Murrindindi Shire, was walking up a hill in the protected woodlands above McKenzie Reserve, Alexandra, next to the landfill site. As Sue tells it:
“All of a sudden, with a woooosh and a loud bang, an ibis fell dead out of the sky, plummeting and crashing to the ground about 20m away. Had it hit me on the head, it would have knocked me out (or perhaps knocked some sense into me !). There were no other birds visible in the sky at the time, although a flock of ibis had departed when I arrived about 10 – 15 minutes earlier. I saw no mid-air attack and can only conclude that the bird died in flight from an unknown cause (old age perhaps, or maybe the smell emanating from the tip !!?). I was astounded as I had never witnessed anything of the sort before.”


A very much alive Australian White Ibis family at Strath Creek

It was a particularly hot day, so another possible cause of death of Sue’s Australian White Ibis might be heat-stress or dehydration. Hopefully it wasn’t a duck shooter with poor identification skills! We have occasionally wondered why, with the very large number of birds that must die of natural causes each year, even those of us who are regularly out and about see so few carcasses on the ground, and certainly witnessing the result of a mid-air death, as Sue did, would be a rare event. Consumption of dead birds by scavengers large and small can of course be swift, especially with small birds, but it is perhaps surprising that we don’t come across more remains of larger birds such as ibis.

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