Rare spoonbill the latest victim

16:00, Mar 17 2014
 Royal spoonbills
RARE BIRD: Royal spoonbills use the Mangere wastewater treatment plant as a feeding ground.

A rare bird is the latest casualty in a wave of deaths following an avian botulism outbreak.

A royal spoonbill was found dead at the Mangere wastewater treatment plant last week.

Several birds have been found dead at the site in recent weeks, but it's the first spoonbill to be added to the list, Lyn MacDonald, New Zealand Bird Rescue Charitable Trust manager, says.

Spoonbill
FIRST DEATH: NZ Bird Rescue manager Lyn MacDonald says the first spoonbill to fall victim to the avian botulism outbreak was found dead at the Mangere Wastewater treatment plant on Monday.

She describes the latest find as "really heartbreaking".

"It's just terrible. The spoonbills are quite rare and it looked like we were starting to get a group establishing themselves here."

Auckland Council is aware of the avian botulism, which occurs annually in shallow, warm water and says it is a natural occurrence.

Humans can't catch the disease.

Dabchicks, shore plovers, swans, ducks, shovelers, teals, shags, herons and hawks are some of the other birds that have been killed by avian botulism in West Auckland in recent weeks.

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