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Byron Shire
July 28, 2021

Lorikeet Syndrome attacking north coast birds

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A pair of sick Rainbow lorikeets. Photo supplied.

It wouldn’t be the north coast without the sound of lorikeets gathering in trees of an evening to meet, to feed, to argue and to sleep.

Normally lorikeets are loud, lively and gregarious, however, over the past few years, multiple lorikeets (predominately Rainbow but also some Scaly-breasted) are presenting with what is now called Lorikeet Syndrome.

These lorikeets display varying symptoms. Mild cases can appear similar to concussion, with birds exhibiting a lack of co-ordination and an inability to fly.

Severe cases will display staggering, paralysis, change to voice (croaky sounding), fully dilated pupils and an inability to blink. These symptoms occur in adults with good feather condition, but most are underweight.

It is still not confirmed what may be causing Lorikeet Syndrome and whether it is dietary or viral.

This illness is different from Clench Foot and Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome. Notably the illness only seems to be affecting wild birds.

The Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) has been receiving many calls about lorikeets over the past month, many of whom display symptoms of Lorikeet Syndrome.

A sick Rainbow lorikeet. Photo supplied.

When these birds are brought into care volunteers closely monitor their symptoms while they are kept in intensive hospital care enclosures.

After fluid therapy some can self-feed, others need help feeding. Lorikeets unable to blink must have eye ointment applied two to four times a day until they start blinking again. Their stages of recovery are closely monitored and they are moved on to the next treatment stage when ready.

Unfortunately, some lorikeets are so severely affected that they die within the first 24 hours of treatment.

The time taken for each treatment stage relies on the individual bird’s recovery rate. They may need to be in intensive care for up to one week, then transferred to a hospital cage for another week before being transferred to a flight aviary where they may spend up to four weeks before being fully recovered.

Many recovered lorikeets have been released by WIRES over the past few weeks, including the three scaly-breasted lorikeets who had spent six weeks in care. However, more are coming in daily.

Should you find a lorikeet in trouble, please call WIRES straight away on 66281898.

WIRES is always in need of more volunteers. If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on June 2 and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course.

For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

The release of three Scaly-breasted lorikeets after treatment and recovery. Photo supplied.


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13 COMMENTS

  1. This is not Lorikeet Syndrome but the same thing that is killing bees worldwide, and classified as Colony Collapse Disorder with bees.
    This is the result of the systemic Neonicotinoid Pesticide group spread all over the cane fields.
    The insecticide is transferred by the sap of the surrounding trees and is coming out through the honey and pollen. The paperbark tea trees which have been flowering for the past few weeks and is flowering again now is one of the main meals of the year for our local Lorikeets.
    The pesticides are widely used on sugar cane, they are water soluble and carried by water to the tea tree roots which are taking up the systemic pesticides. No use wiping your apples anymore, the same insecticide is right through the apple and the tree and the honey and pollen.
    All honey eaters world wide are under attack, you can read it anywhere under Neonicotinoid damage to bees and pollinators.

    • I agree with the previous comment. I have been a wildlife carer most of my life, I remember 20 years ago receiving as many as 70 Lorikeets in a day all with the exact same symptoms. This was in Adelaide, the avian vet as well as myself and other carers all agreed that it was poisoning (possibly the local councils were spraying. Many birds did not recover, so a immediate thorough investigation is of paramount importance, we already have enough Australian species in serious threat.

  2. Jeffrey Gibbs has hit the nail on the head. Lorikeets aren’t a pest in our state and shouldn’t be treated as such. This is an oversight probably signed off by our own government. They don’t care about wildlife they’ve made that perfectly clear.
    We need our ecosystems and pesticides are a big factor in it’s downfall

  3. Hi,

    IF ANYONE IS A VET, please do an autopsy on one of the dead birds to examine the blood-brain barrier please? The symptoms sound like radiation sickness as would be caused to exposure to microwave radiation (a WHO classified 2B Carcinogen and environmental poison.

    In addition to the bee collapse comment due to pesticide, another major contributor is microwave radiation from smart meters and towers. Poisons have ‘always’ been in the Northern Rivers, but cell towers have not and recently have been upgraded around Mullumbimby.

    Thanks.

  4. Is it only wild ones …. I wouldn’t know what to do without mine if she got ill….lol she thinks she’s human…

  5. I work at a preschool in Mullum where every afternoon we were visited by an enormous flock of Lorikets. About two/three months ago they suddenly all stopped. We might get two or three now, and only on some days. In fact the corella, the magpies, etc etc are few and far between. I live in Wilsons Creek and they’re mostly gone even there. And the insects.

    In the meantime two/three months back unmarked vehicles turned up at the microwave tower out at the golf course and buried a piece of equipment the size of a VW van. What could possibly go wrong?

  6. The pet rabbit owners in Australia are losing their pets to a government released Calicivirus. There have been reports of dead wildlife in some places that have lost rabbits to the virus. We believe that CSIRO should not be allowed to import foreign viruses into Australia.

    Viruses mutate and can mutate to then affect non target species.

  7. Neonicotinoid damage to bees and pollinators. will also affect Flying Foxes, since they are nectar/pollen eaters. Humans are the most dangerous animal on Earth; we are heading to a global extinction event, including humans. Rise up, people!

  8. It looks like we’re all on the same page here. A few years ago I was called out to check on a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos that were in a paddock dead and dying. It turned out to be a poison the farmer had sprayed, though an investigation was opened because it was suspected it was intentional, as it was a dairy farm, not crops, and he was known not to like them. Nobody knows what poisons and pesticides people use on their properties. I mostly care for Macropods and Flying Foxes, but rescue any species of wildlife, and although I haven’t seen anything like it in FF’s I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. The industry is often bringing out products that do the job but are safe for people, pets, and wildlife. Ratsak has recently brought out Ratsak Naturals which works this way, and there needs to be a huge overhaul of the industry so that none of these products are toxic. Monsanto have recently had to pay several people compensation, ranging from $80 million to $395 million USD as it was proven the product Round Up had caused their cancer. We need to stop closing the gate after the horse has bolted, and change the situation before illness and deaths become apparent, in both animals and people. Better to be safe than sorry!

  9. 25 – 30% Wildlife vanished here in the Nightcap national park back in 2009 when 3g was installed in, again in 2013 – 70-90% vanished when 4g was installed ( ten times more toxic to wildlife than 3g) in 2013, this year some telco’s have UPGRADED TO 4g this could easily explain dead birds + vanished insects. look up (Physicians for safe technology ) environment and wildlife to confirm this disastrous situation.

  10. I have 2 lorikeets in care. What’s the correct process for recovery please ? I am in Airlie beach, it’s a rural area and not near a WIRES

  11. JUST BROUGHT IN A SICK FELLOW FROM MY FRONT GATE , I WONDER IF IT IS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FRUIT FLY TRAPS THEY HAVE BEEN LAYING IN THE TREES OF OUR BACK YARDS ALSO THE SPRAYING, SOMEONE PLEASE CHECK THIS OUT SEEMS VERY COINCIDENTAL!

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