Tests update on mystery bird deaths in Browns Bay

March 22, 2024

Tests update on mystery bird deaths in Browns Bay

Tests and water samples disprove rumours surrounding the bird deaths at Sherwood Reserve. Photo: Danika Beardsall

Fears of a Browns Bay bird killer after multiple birds were found dead or dying have been lifted after tests - but the cause remains unknown.

Locals feared a mass poisoning of the birds which were found dead or dying in Sherwood Reserve on Jan 22.

Now council tests and water samples have confirmed the deaths were not a result of poisoning or pollution, while BioSecurity NZ investigations also ruled out disease.

Julia Parfitt, Hibiscus and Bays Local Board deputy chairperson, says that it is always distressing to receive reports of animals or birds in poor health.

“It has been a team effort working together with local bird care groups, council staff and other agencies to try to establish what affected the birds. During that time council staff carefully monitored the situation and kept an eye on the site with daily sweeps of the pond.”

Testing and water samples have confirmed that these deaths were not a result of poisoning or pollution.

Biosecurity New Zealand investigated whether an introduced disease was involved in the death of the birds.

Biosecurity New Zealand’s manager, Wendy McDonald, confirms that tests have ruled out any exotic diseases, such as high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI), as the cause of the deaths.

Local residents are still confused and concerned about what could have happened.

They include Tanya and Tom whose concern about possible poisoning included public safety.

“Especially if you’ve got kids roaming around… If a dog were to find a poisoned bird, then it could get really sick.”

They said they hoped the deaths were due to natural causes.

Local board member Gregg Walden says that if this were an ongoing issue then there would be cause for concern.

“We have a great community in terms of Restore Hibiscus and Bays and Pest Control and everything else, so the community really rallies together when strange things or anomalies like these happen.”

Council staff and members of the public will continue to check on the welfare of the birds at Sherwood Reserve.

The local board asks the public to report any issues affecting birds or animals in our parks by calling the council on 09 3010101.

WATCH:  Danika Beardsall in Sherwood Reserve hears from local residents

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