Weather hits survival rates of mutton birds

NATURE is not always pretty.

Sometimes it can be downright cruel, especially when it sets survival tests such as that posed by the built-in migratory behaviour of creatures like the mutton bird.

In their gruelling migration to the south-east coast of Australia, they have to go for long periods of time without food - and some don't make it.

Travelling from Siberia to Australia the birds, also known as short-tailed shearwaters, travel about 12,000km and many die from exhaustion, injuries or starvation.

And some of these victims of natural selection are falling from the sky in our neighbourhood.

"There were about 50 dead on Rainbow Beach and more towards Double Island Point," said beach holiday maker Codey Warhust this week.

Weather events like wind patterns and storms are a big factor in the birds' survival chances.

Reports say this year's journey ended badly for several hundred mutton birds washed up on east coast beaches.

Concerned beach goers have been reporting dead birds in large numbers washing up further to the south.

Strong headwinds and storms are believed to have blown them off course and affected the weaker birds on this year's migration.

Gympie Times

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