Day By Day

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dead Birds!

Something to worry about?
London, Jan.11 (ANI): Two towns, in two separate continents, have reported the mysterious dropping of thousands of dead birds out of the sky.

Baffled wildlife officials were quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that three weeks ago thousands of crows, pigeons, wattles and honeyeaters fell out of the sky in Esperance, Western Australia. Last week, dozens of grackles, sparrows and pigeons dropped dead on two streets in Austin, Texas.

Veterinarians in both countries have been unable to establish a cause of death - despite carrying out a large number of autopsies on the birds.

The officials, however, have ruled out the possibility of the deaths having been caused by a severe storm, which recently struck the area.

"We estimate several thousand birds are dead, although we don't have a clear number because of the large areas of bush land. It's very substantial," the tabloid quoted District Nature Conservation Coordinator Mike Fitzgerald, as saying. Birds Australia, the country's largest bird conservation group, said it had not heard of a similar occurrence, and described it as a most unusual event.
Read the whole thing here.

So far officials investigating these massive die-offs have not been willing to attribute them to deliberate toxic poisoning, but they have their suspicions. In both countries they are working on the theory that this was deliberate, but in neither case is there strong evidence to suggest a major threat to humans.

I'm no expert, but it sure raises the possibility of an attempt by terrorists to release chemical agents on human populations. The biggest problem with neurotoxins is that they quickly disperse over a wide area and are diluted to a level where they do not threaten humans. But birds, like canaries in a coalmine, could through their deaths signal the presence of low levels of chemical agents in the atmosphere.

Add to this the recent stink in Manhattan.


Just something to think about.


There have been massive die-offs of birds at two sanctuaries in Sri Lanka, too. Once again officials are mystified as to the cause. Read about it here.


The Australian reports:

200 more birds die mysteriously

AUTHORITIES in Western Australia are again baffled by the unexplained deaths of more than 200 birds in a small farming community.

It follows the mysterious deaths of an estimated 4000 native birds at Esperance on the state's south coast in a phenomenon that has sparked worldwide scientific attention.

The Department of Environment and Conservation yesterday confirmed that another mysterious bird kill had occurred at Narembeen, 300km southeast of Perth, earlier this month.

Unlike the first incident, the dead birds at the tiny Wheatbelt town - more than 400km west of Esperance - have been identified as treemartins, similar to swallows, which are migratory insect-eaters known to enjoy moderate climates. They can be vulnerable to cold temperatures and wet conditions.

But because the deaths happened two weeks ago and were only reported to environment and agriculture authorities last week, scientists have been unable to carry out any detailed tests on a small number of decomposing remains to establish whether they died of exposure or something more mysterious.

Read it here.

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