Raining parrots seemed to have occurred in Australia recently, as more than 200 paralyzed parrots, belonging to the species called the rainbow lorikeet, fell from the sky over New South Wales. Scientists are mystified by the phenomenon even though it is not the first time that it happened in the country.
Although scientists know the cause of the ‘raining parrots’ event is a mysterious illness called lorikeet paralysis syndrome (LPS), the cause of the disease remains unclear until now. Concerning the recent incident in late January, the fallen birds were rescued and sent to wildlife care facilities.
According to the University of Sydney, researchers have not yet found the origin of LPS.
The phenomenon of falling parrots in Australia seems to only occur during the country’s summer months, between October and June, the Australian university says. The highest number of cases have been reported from December to February. Related incidents involving birds falling from the sky have also been recorded in other parts of the world, including in the United States, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
Researchers are unable to pinpoint the main reason behind the mysterious syndrome, which caused hundreds of rainbow lorikeets to become paralyzed and unable to fly, according to local reports. Some of the fallen parrots were taken into care around the Grafton area in New South Wales. Wildlife rescuers have dozens of birds with them as most of the parrots did not survive.
According to Robyn Gray, who works for the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), there are over 80 birds in their care, adding many of the parrots died due to being underweight and malnourished. As research on LPS continues, scientists are still trying to find what causes the avian illness that affects birds in southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales.
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Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome
The apparent bird-borne disease was first identified in 2010, when reports of a similar event of the raining parrots at that time described the falling birds as ‘drunken parrots’ and blamed it on a mysterious virus. Even before LPS was recognized by health authorities, thousands of birds such as honeyeaters and lorikeets also fell from the sky over Western Australia.
According to the University of Sydney, lorikeet paralysis syndrome is a disease that affects wild rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), causing them to become paralyzed and prevent their ability to fly. The university also reported that current research is unable to identify if LPS is caused by an infectious agent or anthropogenic/man-made toxin as the main causative agent.
Based on previous events, LPS is a life-threatening disease that, if left untreated, makes birds unable to feed themselves where they can die from dehydration and starvation, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland reported.
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