Sunday, January 27, 2013

Supercell storm strikes Tenterfield - lots of birds missing - presumed dead

Back on the 12th January 2013 a supercell storm struck Tenterfield with the ferocity of a tornado making it impossible for birds to find appropriate shelter in time. Around this time there were baby birds of Eastern Spinebills; Western Silvereyes; and possibly even babies of the small Honeyeater species that were still in the nest or had just fledged. The Western Silvereyes I only recently identified as that species. How they got here is a mystery considering they are only supposed to exist in Western Australia.

Nature can be cruel and in this situation was much more cruel than any act of human. How are baby and adult birds of the smaller species suppose to survive when something similiar to a weak developed tornado strikes the area pelting everything with 7-15cm hail? It is really sad to know lots of baby birds died in that storm, and will never have the chance to grow up and have a family of their own.

The storm brought more than 20 minutes of hail (along with rain) to Tenterfield. Since the supercell passed I have only heard one family member of the 4 Western Silvereye species that only recently moved into the area, and as quickly as it appeared it vanished from the area. Both chicks and one of the parents are presumed dead from being struck by hail. I have not seen any Eastern Spinebills or any smaller birds since the supercell storm passed, except for a House Sparrow or two and a few common Blackbirds.

Here is what my brother and I took of the supercell storm whilst we had the chance.

Watch the Masked Plover in this video running to find better shelter from the hail.

How on Earth are small birds capable of surviving such an act of nature when there is very little thick shelter for them to hide in? Tenterfield is a town that lacks the thick, dense foliage of plants that birds can hide in, in the event of hail and heavy rain. If birds are to survive in this area they need shelter from storms. Many smaller bird species will not use human buildings for shelter. If everybody just plants 2 thick, dense bushes or trees close together in their backyards the birds will have a much better chance of surviving bad hail storms. It is up to us humans to provide that additional shelter for the birds as nature is slow at regenerating vegetation. So if you are reading this post, please consider the needs of the much smaller species of birds and plant a few thick, dense shrubs/trees in your backyard.

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