As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Mysterious death of dozens of birds leaves biologist perplexed

A mystery is unfolding in Shasta County hundreds of birds are found dead along Interstate 5. A wildlife biologist says this is highly unusual.

And Jim Wiegand is troubled.

“I’ve studied wildlife my entire life and I’ve never seen this, never seen this,” he said. “It's highly unusual.”

The wildlife biologist is trying to unlock a mystery that mystery lies in the form of dozens of dead birds all gathered within a 200 yard radius in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, on the side of the road, and in the grass just south of the Mountain Gate exit in Shasta County.

“The majority of them are right in this area,” Wiegand said. “Only one or two across the center-divide on the other side of the road there's almost nothing that's another unusual thing.”

Wiegand drives this stretch of road all the time and, as a graduate of UC Berkeley, he's written numerous stories about birds.

“I don't see any signs of trauma disease,” he said. “And they are all in one tight location.”

As he picks up carcasses he plans to have examined, he wonders what could have happened.

“If they were all hit by a semi and a big group was crossing the road, where’s the signs of trauma,” he asked. “These guys look in perfect condition. Where’s the busted up smashed bodies? Where are the cripples? They're not all going to be dead, birds with broken wings can travel for miles on the ground.”

Many articles have been written about a phenomenon just like this one all over the country.

Starlings are considered a pest. They have been poisoned in the past. Wiegand said he doesn't believe that’s what happened here.

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