Mystery of dozens of dead birds falling from the sky in New Jersey is solved as officials say farmer killed them on purpose
It's a sight that would send a shiver down most people's spines - dead birds plummeting from the sky for no apparent reason.
And when it's happened in the past, Americans have blamed secret government experiments, collisions with UFOs and even the start of the apocalypse.
But this time there is no conspiracy theory - officials in a small New Jersey community are pointing the finger at someone much closer to home.
When they first realised what had happened, the people living in the Cumberland County town of Millville were, understandably, left baffled. They said it was like something out of a film.
In one street alone residents found at least 80 birds - mostly red-winged blackbirds - on the ground dead having fallen from trees and the sky.
One neighbour even said she saw the birds falling out of the air.
'Crazy - something out of a movie,' Michelle Cavalieri, who saw the birds fall from the sky, told NBC.
The birds that fell in Millville caused a bloody mess on roadways in the residential neighbourhood.
Jim Sinclair said: 'They’d get up and try and fly and they were out of control so they'd crash and fall again. It was just strange.'
Animal control, public health officials and other emergency crews arrived the scene yesterday morning to try and find out exactly what happened.
The Cumberland County Public Information Officer Troy Ferus then revealed there wasn't an environmental cause for the birds' death.
Instead, he suggested it was something they ate - a double-strength granular pesticide put down legally by nearby Ingraldi Farms to stop birds eating its corn.
WHY ARE THOUSANDS OF BIRDS FALLING FROM THE SKY?
It is not the first time mass birds deaths have occurred on American soil.
Just before the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve 2010, thousands of birds started to rain down on the small town of Beebe, Arkansas.
Up to 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell in a short stretch no more than 800 yards wide, sprinkling roads, rooftops and lawns. In some places, the ground was turned almost black.
Officials initially blamed high-altitude hail or lightning hitting the birds. Then preliminary lab tests concluded they had died from 'multiple blunt force trauma', implying they had flown into something.
The prime suspect was New Year fireworks, which could have startled the birds from their roosts and send them crashing into houses, trees and each other.
The U.S. Geological Survey has said it knew of 16 cases over the past 20 years of large numbers of blackbirds dying at once. Investigators admit they may never discover what happened.
In a statement issued by Mr Ferus, he said: 'The Department of Health reports that on Monday evening Ingraldi Farms applied a granular pesticide intended and approved to cull birds, causing an unusually high volume of dead birds in the area of Ingraldi Farms and Whitemarsh Estates in Millville.
'The material used; Avitrol Double Strength Corn Chops (EPA reg. # 11649-5) is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and intended to be used for bird control for blackbirds, brewer's blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, rusty blackbird, starlings, and yellow-headed blackbirds.'
Officials have said Ingraldi Farms have previously used a ready to use liquid repellent intended to be used for bird control.
Ingraldi Farms is licensed through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to apply pesticides on their farms.
The company has been working with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to alleviate the crop damage done by large flocks of birds.
It has estimated a crop loss of $15,000 so far, due to the birds eating their crops, NBC reported.
Bird specimens have been collected and are being sent to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Laboratory for testing.
'Preliminary investigation gives us the impression that... he had problems with birds,' said county spokesman Troy Ferus.
'He applied for and got a permit for a product that kills birds and that’s what it seems to have been effective at doing.'
Ingraldi Farms declined to comment to NBC.
Officials say the dead birds are not toxic but that any member of the public that encounters a dead bird should use gloves when picking it up and wash their hands thoroughly after handling and disposing of it.
Austria Starlings Collision Leaves Up To 100 Birds Dead On Highway
VIENNA (AP) — A mass collision between a flock of starlings and a car on a stretch of Austrian expressway has left up to 100 of the birds dead and the driver shaken but unhurt.
The Austria Press Agency says the birds suddenly flew from power lines above the multi-lane highway in western Austria downward and directly into the path of the car.
The report did not say how fast the car was traveling Monday, but the speed limit on Austria's autobahns is usually 130 kph — close to 80 mph.
The car sustained numerous dents. Cleanup crews quickly removed the dead birds.
Scientists baffled by dead birds in Missouri
Springfield, MO--"I can't think of any explanation for what happened." says Judy Carmicheal who lives just about a hundred feet from where a flock of starlings died. On Saturday she came out to see the birds dead in the road on Fremont and Erie Street away from power lines and trees.
"None were on the sidewalk. There weren't any in the grass. They were just all right there and I just about counted everyone." says Carmichael. She counted about 100 birds. Garrett Lane works along the intersection and when he showed up some of the birds were still alive.
"Most of the birds were standing right here just leaning up against the wall so when I walked up they wouldn't fly away so that was kind of odd to me. Why aren't the birds flying away--they just weren't able to fly." says Lane. There were no dead birds on his lawn. He doesn't know what happened to the birds that couldn't fly.
Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation said in the winter starlings are usually in a flock for protection but they don't know what happened. "When a bad event happens it impacts the whole flock and in this case the mystery is what was that event." says Francis Skalicky with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The event couldn't have been weather related since on Saturday morning conditions were mild and calm with a lot of sunshine. Theories are a truck could have hit the birds that were in the road. Also, something could have messed with a protective layer of oil on the bird's feathers. "If something gets on the feathers, it can disperse that oil and it can cause them to get hypothermia and die." says Skalicky.
Other theories are the birds could have died from exhaustion while migrating. These ideas are just speculations. The experts we spoke to disagreed with each other on what could have caused the deaths.
"If they were sick, they wouldn't all just die right then and there." says Carmichael.
Similar starling die offs have occurred in Arkansas. Scientists think fireworks caused the deaths but no one knows for sure. There were no reports of any booms or firework explosions on Saturday.
The Missouri Department of Conservation collected a few of the birds and put them in a freezer. It hopes to find some one to test the birds. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department only tests birds with rabies and doesn't plan to test these birds.
Dozens Of Dead Birds Discovered In Collin County
Animal Mystery in McKinney
There's an eerie scene in McKinney. There are dozens of dead birds lining White Avenue and Central Expressway.
An NBC 5 viewer emailed pictures of the dead birds to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We contacted the Collin County Game Wardens Office. A member came out and looked at that bird. While it was bleeding from it's mouth it had not been shot and appeared to die only recently.
By our count there are close to 50 dead birds, mostly Grackles, Starlings and Pigeons.
While this is a heavily traveled area, no one seems to know how or why the birds are dying.
The Collin County Game Warden's office visited had not received any calls about the birds prior to NBC 5 contacting them this afternoon.
http://www.themountainpress.com/news/x1791818529/Birds-fall-from-sky-in-SeymourBirds fall from sky in Seymour
Dozens of starlings litter roadway and fields
Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:41 AM
SEYMOUR —Residents and those passing by near Dogwood Hills subdivision on Boyd Creek Highway Sunday afternoon were met with an unusual scene. Dozens of dead birds littered the highway and surrounding fields after falling from the sky.
Sgt. Robert Stoffle of the Sevier County Sheriff's Department said a call about the birds came in around 1:15 p.m. He said a witness reported seeing the birds in flight before turning back around to see them on the ground.
"It covered one lane of traffic," Stoffle said of the bodies of the birds. Estimates of the number of birds varied from between 30 and 60 up to 300. They appeared to be starlings.
While the vast majority of the birds were dead by the time The Mountain Press photographer arrived, several were still alive, convulsing and flopping their wings on the ground.
A count of the birds on the scene stopped at around 50, when not even half of the visible birds were tallied. Perhaps dozens more were scattered in a nearby field, which was flooded from the recent rainfall. As far as 60 yards from the main site of the birds, individual starlings were found.
A local resident, who didn't want to be named, said he was quite shocked to see the large group of dead and dying birds on the road.
"I was (driving) to the house ... and I see a couple of kids standing in the road. I'm like, 'what are these kids doing in the road?'
"When we get closer, next thing you know, there's birds everywhere and they were all dead. It was disgusting. It was really amazing. That end-of-the-world was supposed to have been coming and stuff, so everybody was like, 'oh, no,'" he said, laughing.
"When I first came upon it, when the kids were kicking them out of the road, there had to be 300 birds there, at least. It was crazy. There's some even in the field and the water and stuff, too, it's crazy.
Officials from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency responded and took two to three birds from the scene for testing, Stoffle said. A state highway department truck with a snow blade attachment scraped the birds from the highway onto the shoulder.
Mystery over mass death of baby sharks
Monday, January 07, 2013
THE Great Fiji Shark Count is willing to work with the Ministry of Fisheries to ascertain how 50 baby hammerhead sharks were found dead along the Nukulau beachfront over the weekend.
Nanise Ledua, a member of the GFSC, said they were working on sending a team to Nukulau Island to gather samples of the dead baby sharks and to determine the cause of their deaths.
"We have so many theories surrounding the dead baby sharks, but we cannot prove it right now," she said.
Ms Ledua said the toxic spill theory was not possible as other species of fish and other marine lives were not affected and the other possibility of the cause of their deaths was the change in water temperature, but this could not be confirmed.
"It's all assumptions, we are assuming that maybe because baby sharks are always in shallow waters, they could have suffocated due to the change in water temperature.
"This is really, really sad to see that this number of sharks are dead," she said.
Ms Ledua added that they had assumed that it was not a failed attempt at shark fishing as the hammerhead sharks still had their dorsal fins.
"There are a lot of questions that we are asking and we can only determine the answers to these questions when we get samples of it," she said.
The GFSC-run Fiji shark dive website in one of its blogs reported: "With Nukulau sitting within the reach of the waters from Rewa where there is a hammerhead nursery, chances are that something has happened there."
"I'm saddened that only one species of shark is involved," Ms Ledua added.
Dead Birds in Duson A Mystery
Posted: Jan 15, 2013 10:18 PM by Steven Albritton
Updated: Jan 15, 2013 10:27 PM
An odd discovery was made Tuesday in Duson. More than 30 birds were found dead, and as of now no one knows why. The birds had no visible injuries and were just scattered in an area next to a sugar cane field.
"I came here this morning and saw birds all over the ground. One of them fell when I was walking around the property," James Wing said.
When Wing found the dead birds his first thought went to a deadly disease.
"I thought maybe it was West Nile. It was the first thing that popped in my head because they say, you see a dead bird you think it's West Nile," he said.
Wing called a state biologist to come in and investigate. The biologist collected around 30 of the dead birds for testing in Baton Rouge.
"We saw about a dozen of them that were ill. He said we'd probably see more until they could figure out what was the cause," Wing said.
Despite all the stormy and unusual weather, the biologist from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it was likely not a factor in the deaths. Testing will give them a better idea of what happened by Thursday.
Lack of oxygen sends waves of dead fish ashore in Pawleys Island
PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) When you go to the beach you don't expect to find hundreds of dead fish covering the shore.
"One time I was here I saw a bunch of jellyfish," Said resident Bill Vogel. "They were all on the shore but nothing like this, it's really weird."
Pawleys Island isn't the first place this week to see the dead Menhaden fish on their shores. DeBordieu Beach had the same issue the day before, according to Chief Michael Fanning of the Pawleys Island Police Department.
Events like this happen from time to time, last year an influx of Star Fish were found on the same beaches, Fanning said.
Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) visited the area Tuesday and took water samples. Wednesday DNR officials gave an explanation as to what is killing the fish.
"It's an occurrence called hypoxia," Said Sergeant Steve Pop. "That is dissolved oxygen levels in the water that drop to a level that is not sustainable for the fish."
It is a natural event and nothing man-made that is killing the fish, added Pop.
"We've got some deep holes off of north inlet that holds these fish," Said Pop. "This time of year the fish congregate in these holes which is depleting the oxygen source."
Pop said the DNR is hopeful some favorable winds combined with high tides tonight and tomorrow will help wash the fish away from the shore.
WMBF News will continue to keep you updated on this story on air and online at WMBFNews.com.
Dead birds in NE Portland may be linked to fermented berries
Dozens of birds have been found dead in northeast Portland, and experts believe berries may be to blame.
The Audubon Society of Portland said they have been receiving reports of dead birds in the area of Northeast Russell Street and Rodney Avenue.
Audubon Society veterinarians suspect the birds are eating fermented berries, which can lead to poisoning.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife workers are performing necropsies to determine the official cause of death.
A Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said that will likely take three to four weeks. The spokesperson could not confirm fermented berries were involved in the recent bird deaths yet, but said a similar situation happened back in 2008.
Due to cold weather that winter, red robins couldn't dig into the ground for worms, so they ate holly berries and died. The deaths were attributed to alcohol poisoning from fermented berries.
Dead birds were intoxicated, an investigation finds
Young blackbirds found dead at a primary school in Cumbria suffered from alcohol poisoning, according to an investigation.
Animal health specialists were called to examine a dozen birds found in the playground, many with trauma injuries.
Post-mortem analysis revealed that one of the birds had a large amount of pure alcohol in its liver.
Scientists suggest the birds sustained their injuries in flight because they were intoxicated by fermented berries.
Staff from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) published their results in the Veterinary Record.
A local wildlife sanctuary cared for a further bird found in the area, which they described as unsteady on its feet, using its wings to support itself and leaning on the walls of its enclosure.
The bird made a full recovery and was released after two weeks of care.
When AHVLA researchers analysed the dead blackbirds they found all the birds had eaten berries from a nearby rowan tree.
Tim Harrison, development officer of the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Garden BirdWatch explained: "Generally speaking, birds that have a lot of fruit in their diet are more efficient at metabolising alcohol and are better adapted at eating fruit that has higher alcohol concentrations."
He continued: "There are anecdotal reports of birds acting 'drunk' but these tend to be very rare".
But damaged berries were also recorded on the ground where the birds were discovered.
Scientists explained that the berries on the ground were damaged and would have been vulnerable to yeast infestation. This would have precipitated fermentation and subsequent alcohol production.
According to Paul Duff and colleagues at the AHVLA, who carried out the post-mortem analysis on the dead blackbirds, the berries found in the birds' guts smelled of fermentation - the chemical process of sugars breaking down into alcohol.
Tissue samples sent for analysis partially confirmed the scientists' suspicions when one revealed high concentrations of ethanol, pure alcohol, in the liver of an affected bird.
However, alcohol was not identified in the toxicology tests of two other samples.
A similar diagnosis was made in 1999 for a group of redwings, which had been feeding on holly berries that were fermenting following a frost.
Video: Bad weather to blame for dead starfish washed up in Cleethorpes area
HOUSANDS of starfish have been washed up on the beach following the recent bad weather.
About 4,000 of them laid strewn for miles at the Humberston Fitties yesterday, turning the beach into a marine life graveyard.
It is thought they were swept onto the sands following storms out in the North Sea and the sub-zero temperatures.
Rachael Shaw, of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: "It's possible that bad weather or storms out at sea, perhaps associated with high tides, have caused the mass stranding of these starfish."
Keith Breakell, 77, of Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes, regularly walks his chocolate Labrador, Robbie, along the beach.
He said: "We come here often and I have never seen anything like it. It is a very sorry sight."
Waltham man, Graham Kennedy, 60, who was out for a walk with his dog, Molly, said: "I was quite surprised to see them. They are fairly big, too. Molly tried to eat one!"
These starfish are common starfish or asterias rubens and live in large numbers in the North Sea. The majority of the ones stranded have perished, and seagulls have started to feed on them, but those that landed in shallow pools of water will have survived.
Starfish invaded the Fitties in April last year and in 2010, and were dotted about in the Brighton Slipway area of Cleethorpes beach.
Cleethorpes' Beach Safety team was alerted to their presence, but they do not pose a threat to the public.
A spokesperson for the team joked: "The only way they are dangerous is if they are eaten."
North East Lincolnshire Council said the phenomenon was not uncommon.
Jason Longhurst, head of development, said: "It's not unusual to have dead starfish wash up on the beach and there have been instances when it has happened with greater numbers than this event."
Thanks to Simon Peck, a reader who took yesterday's thisisgrimsby.co.uk picture of the dead starfish.
Dead robins found in Northeast Portland in possible rash of binge drinking
The dead robins are back.
More than 30 carcasses have been found on the ground in Northeast Portland in the past week. Wildlife experts don't know for sure what killed them but one possible cause is a berry binge -- just like in February 2008.
That month, the carcasses of more than 50 American robins were found around Mount Tabor in Southeast Portland. When scientists opened them up, they found their bellies full of holly berries.
"They had gorged themselves on fermenting berries," said Bob Sallinger, conservation director at the Audubon Society of Portland.
The robins had died of alcohol poisoning.
"If robins eat enough fermenting berries, it's like binge drinking," Sallinger said. "It's not like long-term liver damage."
Residents found the bodies this week near Northeast Russell and Rodney. They contacted the Audubon Society, but their wildlife experts found no obvious cause of death so they turned them over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sent 10 carcasses to its forensics lab in Ashland for analysis.
The test results might not be available for four weeks. In the meantime, Sallinger is keeping an open mind.
"It could be poison," he said. "It could be that there's a disease running through the population. There are a lot of things that can kill birds."
But he acknowledged that the two dieoffs are similar. "There are some interesting parallels," he said.
Both times, the robin carcasses appeared normal, with no visible signs of injury or disease. And both times, the birds died after a cold snap.
American robins, one of the five most common birds in Portland, prefer to eat worms. But when the ground freezes, they're forced to consume what's available.
"If worms are scarce, they will go for things like berries," Sallinger said. "That may have been what happened here."
A resident discovered a few more dead robins Friday morning near Northeast Russell and Rodney. There are no holly bushes at the intersection, but a few are mixed into the landscaping of a nearby apartment complex.
Most of their berries are gone.
-- Lynne Terry
Rescue for birds covered in 'wax' in the south west
Hundreds of seabirds - some dead - have been washed up on England's south west coast, covered in a waxy substance.
The RSPCA said it had rescued more than 100 birds, which had been taken to the West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton.
Earlier reports suggested the white substance was palm oil, but scientists were unable to confirm this, though they believe it is vegetable-based.
Many birds were found at Chesil Cove near Weymouth but others are appearing up to 200 miles away in Cornwall.
There are also reports of some washing up in Hampshire and Sussex.
At least two of the rescued birds, which are mainly guillemots, have died but rescuers are trying to save others.
Martin Cade, warden of Portland Bird Observatory, said it looked like "hundreds of birds" were being washed up, covered in a "PVA glue-type" substance, while even more could be seen out at sea.
He said: "Most of them aren't dead, and if they get cleaned up by the RSPCA, they have a have a chance of survival."
Steve Trewhella, a naturalist based in Dorset, spent much of Thursday at Chesil beach.
He said: "They're covered in this sticky resin. It's not oil, we don't really know what it is, it's clear.
"At first glance they just look wet, but when you touch them, their feathers are completely matted with [the oil], which means they can't clean themselves, they can't waterproof themselves, and consequently they'll freeze and die on the beach tonight if they're not taken away."
BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham said: "What's particularly frightening is that if you're picking up a hundred on the beach, there could be very many more which have died and been lost at sea. So this could be a tip of an iceberg as it stands at the moment.
"If this is a substance which is toxic and then gets into the food chain it can persist there for many years and have an influence over many other types of animal."
The RSPCA said the rescued birds did initially "not respond well" to the cleaning techniques normally used to remove oil.
It has now begun using other products, such as vegetable oil and margarine, to clean the birds with some success.
The charity said a majority of the birds were found around Portland, Dorset, covered in a "greasy film" and suffering from very sore legs.
Inspector John Pollock, from the RSPCA, said he had never come across the substance.
"We think it might be some sort of palm oil, maybe the way it reacts with the salt in the water and it gets churned up, and it sticks to the birds feathers," he said.
"But I've never dealt with it, 22 years I've been dealing with spills, and I've never dealt with a contaminant like this. It's sort of, like, fuel based."
A spokeswoman for Dorset Wildlife Trust urged people not to attempt to rescue any washed up birds but to alert the RSPCA.
She said: "Just picking up the birds from the sea is dangerous, then when you add the weather conditions and waves it becomes very dangerous."