A farmer shared grim photos to Twitter of what he says shows dead cockatoos that appeared to have fallen from a tree on a day that saw the thermometer on his back verandah rocket to 48.9C.
“Not an official reading obviously, but it was enough to kill these sulphur-crested cockatoos,” he wrote.
Others responded with similar tones of grief, labelling it “heartbreaking” and “f***ing sad”.
“I’ve never seen that before,” one person wrote.
Wildlife Arc head bird carer Cathy Stubbs told Yahoo News Australia it was not uncommon to hear of birds dying from extreme heat, particularly when the temperature surpassed 42 degrees.
She said it was a combination of drought conditions, including a lack water and food, that caused birds to drop dead, such as in the case reported by the farmer.
Very hot conditions extending across the SE states today with temperatures in excess of 40C in some places. Severe to extreme heatwave conditions. Smoke from NSW fires has reached Melbourne as seen in this 12pm satellite imagery. https://t.co/pIVv1tfrIh pic.twitter.com/jbpEjCOMF9
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) December 20, 2019
‘They’re certainly struggling’
Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Andrew Hill veterinarian said all animals were “doing it tough” in the hot and dry conditions, which had compromised many species’ regular sources of food and water.
“Animals are doing it tough out there. A lot of birds and mammals are coming in dehydrated and exhausted, and that’s across most species, they’re all doing it tough,” Mr Hill told Yahoo News Australia.
“Birds are not able to access their normal food and water source. They’re coming into people’s yards, coming in contact with dogs and getting hit by cars. These things have driven a lot of admissions. They’re certainly struggling,” the vet added.
The photos were uploaded by the farmer on Friday, the day after weather records were broken in several states and the national average maximum temperature reached a six-year high.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the national average maximum reached 41 degrees on Thursday after hitting 41.9 the day before and 40.7 on Tuesday.
The previous record of 40.3 degrees had not been broken since January 2013.
Temperatures threatened to kill hundreds of flying foxes in the NSW town of Singleton on Thursday where it reached 41 degrees.
The animals cannot maintain bodily function in heat above 42 degrees, which causes them to fall from trees and die.
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