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Birds fall from sky

Residents of Attlee Place were left shocked and confused when more than 60 birds, among them sparrows, a thrush and a mynah, dropped dead over four hours yesterday morning.

The birds were lying dead or dying all around the complex of inner city flats in a suspected mass poisoning.

Residents said they noticed birds acting strangely, flying low and all over the place, when they woke up yesterday. By lunchtime more than 60 sparrows were dead and one myna bird.

Lisa Ririnui said she has lived there for almost 10 years and had never seen anything like it.

“They’re struggling to stay alive, it’s weird, and very uncommon.”

Another resident saw them “dropping out of the trees” to fall dead on the ground.

“We’ve got cats and children and are very worried they are going to pick up these dead birds.” Gisborne District Council (GDC) confirmed it was not a council operation. The dead birds were picked up for disposal yesterday afternoon.

The council contractor would visit Attlee Place again today in case there were further casualties.

GDC team leader of biodiversity Phil Karaitiana took a couple of the birds to the vet to determine the cause of death and what poison may have been used.

“There appeared to be around 60 birds, all sparrows and one myna.

“People should be responsible with the use of bait and understand the consequences of laying bait in a city area.”

Five of the inner city flats are managed by Gisborne Holdings Limited. GHL chief executive Tracey Johnstone said it had not carried out any baiting operations or pest control.

WHO DID THIS?: Someone poisoned the birds at inner city flats off Carnarvon Street yesterday. Attlee Place residents woke up to see birds, mostly sparrows, acting strangely and by lunchtime more than 60 were dead. This thrush was among the birds affected. Pictures by Rebecca Grunwell
DISTRESSING: Attlee Place residents were alarmed yesterday when birds started falling out of the trees. These sparrows were among the victims.