Nearly 60 native birds died after “falling from the sky” in front of horrified onlookers in a suspected case of mass poisoning in South Australia, rescuers say.

Bird rescuers said it was like “something out of a horror movie” as dozens of birds fell, bleeding from their eyes and beaks at One Tree Hill near Adelaide. The animals – two species of corella – were found near a sports ground in Adelaide on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The little corella is listed as an unprotected species by the state government. (Willy/ Adobe Stock)

Of those, according to the BBC, at least 57 of the birds were long-billed corellas, a protected species in Australia, while a few were little corellas, an unprotected species by the state government, considered by many to be a pest that deserves “gassing,” according to The Guardian.

Some of the birds found alive were taken to veterinarians, but they couldn’t be saved, the BBC reported.

Long-billed corellas, a protected species in Australia. (mjarnold87/ Adobe Stock)

“The scene looked like a horror movie,” said Sarah King, founder of Casper’s Bird Rescue which sent a staffer to the incident.

“The birds weren’t able to fly and were lying on the ground wailing in pain. Some birds were bleeding out of their mouth. That immediately made us think of poisoning, which we’ve seen before,” she said.

Trudy Seidel, a veterinarian who saw the birds, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “more than likely they have been poisoned.”

The Department for Environment and Water said the cause was not yet confirmed. A spokeswoman told the BBC,

“Disease and toxin testing is underway and will take several weeks to complete.”

Ms. King said if the birds were poisoned, she hoped that the toxicology report could help trace its origin.

“It’s a typical requirement that people must register when they purchase a poison,” she said.

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