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.

Monday 26 November 2012

Follow Up: Bird Deaths Over the Weekend Remain a Mystery

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Last weekend, we told you about the strange sight of up to 100 dead starlings found at the intersection of E. Erieand Fremont Ave.

On Monday, Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation told KOLR10 News the nature of the starlings may help explain what happened.

"A multiple starling death such as this may be unique for the intersection of Fremont and Erie in Springfield, but each year in North America it's not that uncommon to have an event like this."

Skalicky says during the winter months, this species of birds flies in huge flocks from hundreds to thousands for safety reasons. He says there are several theories to why birds would suddenly die.

Starlings are ground feeders, so Skalicky says the birds may have been feeding and were hit by a large vehicle. Or perhaps they were startled overnight and flew into buildings or wires.

Birds killed by truck?
A big vehicle plowing through a flock of startled starlings may have left 50 to 100 birds dying in the street over the weekend.

That’s one theory the Missouri Department of Conservation has come up with to explain the birds’ demise, according MDC Media Specialist Francis Skalicky.

“A Conservation agent investigated the scene and there’s no evidence of foul play,” Skalicky said late Monday. “He did collect two birds and the Health Department was asked if they wanted to test them, but they said no. We believe it was a single event at that location. It may be unusual to see on a street within the city limits, but it’s not an uncommon event in the wild for large numbers of starlings to die all at once.”

People began reporting the presence of a large number of dead birds at the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Erie Street on Saturday. Skalicky said starlings tend to form large flocks, especially in cooler weather.

It’s possible a flock was feeding on the ground in the area and flew into a large vehicle as it passed by, he said.

“It has happened in other places,” he said. “A second theory is that there may have been an overnight roost disturbance, but we don’t really know what caused them to die.
“It’s a head-scratcher.”

Because the incident happened in one small location — and no other bird species appear to have been affected — Skalicky said MDC isn’t planning any further inquiry into the bird deaths.

“We’re certain it was a single event, but we don’t know for sure what that event was,” he said.


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