Many residents will notice the abnormally high number of sick and dead birds, in particular, Pink & Grey Galahs, around our town recently.

It is suspected that many of these birds have succumbed to a disease known as Avian Gastric Yeast.  This disease is caused by an organism that has been identified as a yeast or fungus, not a bacterial infection.   Young birds are very susceptible due to their immature immune systems, with some birds succumbing to the disease very quickly, in a matter of hours, whilst others can be ill for weeks or months.  The disease ulcerates the lining of the bird’s Glandular Stomach, leading to loss of blood and tissue fluid.  The result is that birds start to lose weight as they are unable to absorb any foods being eaten, they develop diarrhoea and become fluffed and quiet, eventually being unable to fly or fend for themselves.   Hence the large number of birds congregating on the verge to find water in puddles by the side of the road and being hit by motor vehicles.

It is pointed out that this disease is NOT TRANSFERRABLE TO HUMANS OR MAMMALS.

It has been discovered that by lowering the gastric pH in the birds, an intestinal and stomach environment is created that makes it difficult for the disease to establish in uninfected birds, but also makes it difficult for AGY to multiply in birds that are already infected.  A therapeutic agent which may help in managing this disease is simply APPLE CIDER VINEGAR.

Some of our town’s devoted Wildlife Warriors have been placing large water bowls around town where the galahs are known to congregate, with the hope of keeping them out of the roadside puddles.    This water is treated with APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, at a rate of 10mls to 1 litre of water.

If you are out walking your dog, it is advisable not to let your pet drink from these containers, or to let them “sniff” or interfere with a dead bird.  Our Wildlife Carers always carry a supply of plastic bags to pick up and dispose of dead birds, which are unsightly and unpleasantly “smelly”.

As a concerned citizen and lover of our wildlife, you can help the plight of these birds in crisis, by simply placing a large water container (not too deep) in your garden, with APPLE CIDER VINEGAR in it, at the above rate of 10 mls to 1 litre of water.  The water should be changed daily.  You can purchase the vinegar at IGA for less than $5.00.  For those more devoted wildlife warriors, a small amount of wild bird seed, also available from IGA for less than $10.00, could also be placed near the water.

This small act of compassion could help ensure a healthier bird population for all of us and tourists to our beautiful town to enjoy.

We can also report that this disease IS treatable, if a sick bird is rescued in time.  Your local wildlife carer and our local vet do have the knowledge and experience to treat these birds.

If you find a sick bird, please take or report the bird to the DEC Office (next door to the Police Station on Bashford Street), or phone the Shire Ranger (0408 911 272), or Sheryl 9652 1027.


This article has been prepared with the assistance of a publication by Dr Colin Walker of The Knox Veterinary Bird Clinic, VIC, and Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Inc.