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60 Corellas Fall, Bleeding, From the Sky

Most of them ended up dead
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2019 8:00 AM CDT
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Long-billed corellas.   (Getty Images / sandergroffen)

(Newser) – Dozens of birds fell from the sky, bleeding from their eyes and beaks, in a scene bird rescuers described as being like "something out of a horror movie" in South Australia on Wednesday. The corellas "were literally falling out of the trees in front of [one rescuer], falling out of the sky," the founder of Casper's Bird Rescue tells the Guardian. "Only two or three were actually deceased. The rest were just screaming on the ground. They couldn’t fly any more, they were bleeding out of their mouths." But ultimately, more than 60 birds died, the BBC reports. News.com.au reports that just one survived the incident. The rescuers suspect a mass poisoning.

One species of corella, the little corella, is considered a pest in South Australia and is listed as unprotected by the state government; in March, one local council actually proposed culling the population via gassing. The Alexandrina council explained that the birds can damage infrastructure and vegetation and displace other native species. But the rescue founder says 57 of the birds killed were long-billed corellas, a protected species. She says some sort of slow-acting poison was likely used, calling it a "horrific" way to die: "It's not an instant death. It causes suffering. It takes a few weeks for it to work. It starts internally and they have internal bleeding." But the state's Department for Environment and Water says disease and toxin testing is still underway. (Read more Australia stories.)

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