This Rainbow Lorikeet has been in care with WIRES volunteer Julie Marsh for 48 hours.and is slowly recovering from a
This Rainbow Lorikeet has been in care with WIRES volunteer Julie Marsh for 48 hours.and is slowly recovering from a "toxic event" sweeping North Coast populations.

Rainbow lorikeets are dropping like flies from the sky

RAINBOW lorikeets are dropping from the sky like flies on the North Coast due to a deadly "toxic event" that only seems to be "only getting worse".

WIRES Northern Rivers raptor (birds of prey) co-ordinator and state avian management officer, Melanie Barsony, said the toxic event, originally called lorikeet paralysis syndrome (LPS), was ramping up in the region.

The disease has also been reported to be spreading throughout lorikeet populations in south-east Queensland.

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But according to experts, the disease was "definitely" not a virus, like people have thought.

"We are getting a lot of calls about lorikeets coming in, with reports they are suffering a severe concussion, can't fly and their legs seems paralysed," Ms Barsony said.

"There are lot of people panicking thinking it's a virus and can be spread to other lorikeets and other birds and that even humans can contract it.

"But there has been a lot of recent research conducted by Wildlife Health Australia who have completed autopsies and laboratory testing - there is a consensus that it not a virus - but it's looking more likely to be a toxin."

Ms Barsony said while experts were still working out exactly what causes the illness, in the interim, the public could help.

"It's a tricky one to figure out what exactly is going on," she said.

"The autopsies are showing various internal problems in the birds … they don't know if it's lead poisoning or some exotic tree they've been eating that has poisoned them.

"The event does seem to be seasonal - but if people can record what sort of tree they found them under, or the situation they found them in, or if there are clusters under particular type of flowering tree - that will help us determine what is causing the toxic event.

"Some are only slightly affected and some cant blink and they can't move and their voice is really croaky.

"The lorikeet's eyes are a tell tale sign - if they appear glazed, have dilated pupils and no blink reflex. The bird will also be extremely lethargic."

If you find a lorikeet suffering from the syndrome, call WIRES Northern Rivers on 66281898, or RSPCA or a local vet.