Dead Starlings on the road update

I’ve meant to come back to this for a while.

Do you remember the dead Starlings found on a road in Anglesey? Well the police say that they were avoiding a predator – see here.

I wonder. I’m not sure that the burden of evidence is anything like good enough. I’m happy to put it down as unexplained myself.

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11 Replies to “Dead Starlings on the road update”

  1. Impact Trauma? Does that include the ones stuck in the hedges and in the grass? It just seems odd that none of the birds were even partially alive. I'm sure we've all seen birds that have impacted windows and have been stunned but have flown off. What made these hit the ground so much harder especially when there was thick grass either side of the road?

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    1. Surely an autopsy is/was the way of finding out the cause. On a mass death such as occurred I would suspect some sort of poisoning and that it would probably be fast acting and very local.
      Highly unlikely it could it be caused by a predator as typically they would take just single birds.

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  2. The Fieldsport Channel reported this as being caused by a predator, I think we can guess why they'd like to do that but they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this. Their 'Newsthump' fronted by David Wright will never, I fear, replace Reuters, but if momentarily you can put aside the justifiable concern some people might actually believe it it's a very entertaining demonstration of the truly desperate finding sanctuary in cognitive dissonance. I.e they can't cope with bitter reality - much modern shooting is ludicrous and more people are realising this - so try to twist everything to counter it. They reported you Mark being a trustee of the World Land Trust as 'having his finger in another pie'. More and more I find myself laughing at them rather than getting angry, which I think is a good sign.

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  3. If they were also found lying in bushes doesn't that contradict the statement about impact with the road? Would hitting a bush kill a bird?

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  4. I'm sure there was a witness that said they had been feeding on a substance on the road.
    Sounds more like poisoning to me.

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  5. I think it looked very much like a ground collision and nothing like a poisoning. I would think it would be clear to tell if impact was the cause of death from a close examination of the starlings and that is what the police reported.

    What I would think isn’t clear is the circumstances that lead to this accident. The police speculated that a bird of prey caused it. I am very doubtful avoiding a bird of prey would cause such a mistake. I have heard speculation that the impact could have been from a vehicle. Perhaps the police thought the bird of prey flushed the starlings across the road as a vehicle was passing. Although the starlings could have just have easily been just moving between hedges. I don’t think it looks messy enough to be a vehicle collision and the road isn’t fast enough to lead to such an accident. Perhaps we would also have seen brake marks.

    Andrea Goddard made me aware of a BBC news article on the 19th Dec 2019 which reported "Starling expert Prof Anne Goodenough from the University of Gloucestershire said one theory was the birds had been taking part in a mass murmuration and had been disorientated by sun reflected from a wet road.”

    I think the low sun at that time played a big part in the cause of the circumstances that lead to the catastrophe mistake by the starlings. I located the road and found at that time would have been running towards the low sun at that time. Collisions with buildings could be annually killing upto a billion birds in the US. Some think birds become disoriented by the bright reflection from the smooth, transparent surfaces of glass buildings. If think a really bright road reflection could cause such disorientation. Do starlings also use the positioning of the sun to navigate in a murmuration? If so I would think the bright road reflection could also have caused the misjudgment in altitude while the starlings were swooping at speed as part of their murmuration.

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    1. I've heard of swans getting into trouble by landing on wet roads because in certain conditions reflected light would make them think they were waterways.....ouch! The disorientation theory makes a lot more sense than the bird of prey one, the artificial world causes the natural one so many problems in so many unexpected ways - https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2013/06/19/193493225/the-love-that-dared-not-speak-its-name-of-a-beetle-for-a-beer-bottle?t=1581253247056 since you mention Andrea Goddard the bit on Winterwatch about tree creepers creating roost holes in redwood bark because of a shortage of old trees with naturally occurring ones came from her research. She's a very clever cookie.

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  6. It seems likely that this explanation is correct - similar conclusions in a similar case here:
    https://www.hollandtimes.nl/articles/national/cause-of-mass-deaths-of-starlings-in-the-hague-identified/
    Probably a low flying Jet that startled them, they do a lot of military training in the area...

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  7. It's caused by following the leaders of the Murmuration, who belong to a Death Cult, and have decided that because there is nothing more to Starling Life than Murmuring and Defaecating that they will lead everyone into a fatal Death Spiral into Oblivion.

    Or it's 5G.

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  8. Anyone know if tests revealed a different cause for those birds found on the road and those found in the hedgerow?

    The police seem to have reached their conclusion on the basis of a scientific report.

    But surely the report needs to be published to allow others to offer different interpretations?

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