January 09, 2007

Bird Deaths Perplex Scientists and Health Officials

I read this with some interest yesterday:

AUSTIN — Police shut down a 10-block stretch of Congress Avenue in the heart of downtown for several hours Monday after 63 dead birds were found, but officials said preliminary tests showed no dangerous chemicals in the area and no public health threat.

Although officials had not determined whether the birds were killed by poison or died of natural causes, “We’re pleased to report there’s no threat to humans at this point,” said Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald.

Strange story. But how about reading this the next day:

THOUSANDS of birds have fallen from the skies over Esperance and no one knows why.

Is it an illness, toxins or a natural phenomenon? A string of autopsies in Perth have shed no light on the mystery.

All the residents of flood-devastated Esperance know is that their "dawn chorus" of singing birds is missing.

The main casualties are wattle birds, yellow-throated miners, new holland honeyeaters and singing honeyeaters, although some dead crows, hawks and pigeons have also been found.

Wildlife officers are baffled by the "catastrophic" event, which the Department of Environment and Conservation said began well before last week's freak storm.

On Monday, Esperance, 725km southeast of Perth, was declared a natural disaster zone.

District nature conservation co-ordinator Mike Fitzgerald said the first reports of birds dropping dead in people's yards came in three weeks ago. More than 500 deaths had since been notified. But the calls stopped suddenly last week, reportedly because no birds were left.

Realign your tinfoil hats with the cosmos and explain to me.


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