Attracted To ‘Deadly Blue’ …

Blue Coloured Snail & Slug Pallets May Be Linked To Spate Of Bowerbird Deaths

As recently reported, there has been a spate of Bowerbird deaths on Tamborine Mountain over the Winter months. 

There was some concern that blue snail bait could have been collected by the male and taken to his bower to attract the female. One active ingredient used, Metaldehyde, has been found toxic to wildlife in the US and has been band in the UK. 

It is still used in certain snail baits in Australia.

However, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has advised that: “Products containing metaldehyde are required by Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) legislation to be dyed green.

However, there are APVMA registered slug and snail products containing methiocarb that are required to be dyed blue.  

Both are poisonous to mammals but the mammalian toxicity of methiocarb is about 10 times that of metaldehyde.”  

There have been four birds delivered to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital (CWH) for a necropsy, but no toxicology report is yet available. It could be a number of other pesticides or herbicides as the actual cause of death is not known.

The birds do like to eat fruit including avocado and citrus. They also eat chook pellets which would suggest that green snail pellets containing methiocarb could also be eaten, if used in the garden.

Although both Regent Bowerbirds and Satin Bowerbirds collect the blue objects, it is the more prolific Satin Bowerbirds we are finding affected on the Mountain. I have observed Bowerbirds feeding from a container of poultry pellets on a property where dead Bowerbirds were found.  

The owner stated she used show bird pellets that contain a high protein content. I also feed peacocks, on my property, where dead birds have been found, a game bird mix with a high protein content. The Bowerbirds do not normally eat grain but apparently Iike the pellets. This could be the common factor connecting the death of birds between our two properties.

The birds become accustomed to eating pellets. Therefore, susceptible to eating other garden pellets containing poison.

My neighbour has also found two dead magpies, although there could be other causes from the use of insecticides and herbicides. The ideal would be not to use pellets without putting them in a in bird-proof container.

We have been fortunate to have the support of local wildlife rescuer, Robin Rowland, who has supplied us with some good photos depicting the male and female Satin Bowerbirds for identification. The bright blue eyes are a feature. Robin has also offered to keep us in the loop when result become available.

If you find one of these sick birds, either take it to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital or call Wildcare Rescue 5527 2444.

Male Bowerbird attracting, with blue objects, two female Bowerbirds to his bower (Photo by Doug (Rileyfive))
Male Bowerbird attracting, with blue objects, two female Bowerbirds to his bower (Photo by Doug (Rileyfive))

By Julie Wilkinson (Scenic Rim Residents Action Group)

Please contact me if you have any comments.