Mysterious death of beautiful bird

NPWS Ranger Dave Redman with a wandering albatross found at Diggers Camp, Yuraygir National Park in February.
NPWS Ranger Dave Redman with a wandering albatross found at Diggers Camp, Yuraygir National Park in February. Contributed

ONCE a symbol of good luck for mariners, the fate of the wandering albatross that had travelled from Antarctica before being found near Diggers Camp wasn't so rosy.

"I went to retrieve the bird but it had just passed away. It was still warm," Diggers Camp resident Lance Blemmings said.

"It was a very good specimen. It weighed 8.1kg and had a wingspan over 3m long."

The albatross is a threatened species and will be donated to science, according to National Parks ranger David Redman.

"The bird was carrying an identification band so we know it was tagged by French researchers on the island of Kerguelan, which is south of Africa near Antarctica," he said.

"We are still waiting for a full report form the Australian Bird and Banding scheme."

The albatross was tagged as a chick three years ago and was still very much a juvenile, considering the birds mature around 12-15 years of age.

The bird will be kept frozen until it is sent to the Australian museum where it will be preserved, Mr Redman said.

Among other things the bird's DNA could prove to be useful, he said.

There were no signs of physical injury on the bird, and the cause of death remained unknown.

The albatross's native habitat in Australia extends from Perth all the way round southern Australia and up to Queensland, Mr Redman said.

Nonetheless, it was not common for birds to be sighted in this area, and especially close to land.

Albatrosses mate for life with just one partner.

Topics:  bird death

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