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LEAD poisoning is suspected of killing thousands of birds that fell from the sky over the West Australian coastal town of Esperance last year.
After three months of searching for answers to the unprecedented phenomenon, the state Department of Environment finally confirmed yesterday that lead poisoning was responsible for killing four birds it tested recently.
Department of Environment spokesman David Mell said there was still no direct evidence of a lead source, although lead carbonate transported into Esperance for shipping through the port is the main suspect.
More than 50 birds were found in the courtyard at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability building.
Employees were notified immediately, and the area was blocked for about two hours while the Austin Fire Department's HazMat Team and Animal Control checked the courtyard to make sure there wasn't a public health threat and to remove the dead birds.
After investigating, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said it's just Mother Nature at work.
About 50 cedar waxwing birds died in North Austin apparently after getting drunk on the fermented berries of some yaupon trees, said Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The deaths were not related to the parasitic infections that killed 63 grackles, pigeons and sparrows whose bodies were found on Congress Avenue in January, McBride said. Emergency workers shut down 10 blocks of Congress Avenue when the birds were found, and many people could not get to work.
McBride did not immediately know Monday evening whether additional testing would be done on the birds.
MUMBAI: The migratory birds which dropped dead from the skies in Santa Cruz on Sunday have been found to be suffering from an infection of the lung.
But doctors, who conducted the post-mortem tests on the Northern Shovellers, said it was too early to tell whether they were suffering from any serious viral ailment like avian influenza.
THE Port of Esperance on Western Australia's southern coast has suspended lead carbonate exports and imports following findings that lead poisoning could have been responsible for mass bird deaths in the region.
The West Australian Department of Environment and Conservation last week revealed that lead poisoning killed a small number of birds autopsied following the unprecedented deaths of more than 4000 birds in the area late last year.
Macquarie University's Brian Gulson, a former CSIRO scientist who specialises in the effects of toxic metals in mining and urban communities, said there were three developments that concerned him.
"Firstly, lead carbonate is much more dangerous than other forms of lead. It is by far the most toxic," Professor Gulson said. "Secondly, it's very fine and therefore cannot be seen by the human eye, and thirdly, this (the movement of lead carbonate) has been going for 18 months through a populated area without anyone knowing the dangers."
PIGEONS, so far unaffected by lead levels that have killed thousands of other birds in Esperance, were last night being shot in an effort to pinpoint the source of the public health scare engulfing the West Australian port town.
One common denominator that may help them identify the source of the problem - believed but not confirmed to be the port, which has shipped out more than 100,000 tonnes of lead carbonate in 18 months - is that the dead birds were all nectar feeders.
That would strengthen the most popular theory that prevailing afternoon sea breezes were blowing the dust back over the town and on to a variety of trees and plants visited by the birds.
Esperance water tested as more birds die
ESPERANCE residents remain deeply concerned over possible exposure to lead poisoning which has been cited as the likely cause of thousands of bird deaths in the area.
The mystery deaths of about 4,000 birds near the town, in Western Australia's south, between December 7 and January 2, had perplexed the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) until tests recently showed the birds probably died of lead poisoning.
Another 187 birds have died in the town during the past week.
The DEC yesterday ordered the Esperance Port Authority to stop all lead carbonate shipments.
The port had already voluntarily suspended lead carbonate shipments from Magellan Metals on Monday.
Businesswoman Jennifer McPherson said today she felt there'd been a cover-up at the port.
"We don't know what's going on at the port, it all seems like a bit of a cover-up," Ms McPherson said.
"There have probably been spillages and leakages for goodness knows how long ... people have no trust in the port."