Dozens of Starlings found dead, biologist baffled

Mar 29, 2016 11:40 PM by Cecile Juliette

North State Wildlife Biologist Jim Wiegand is puzzled. He says Sunday, he was headed north on I-5 south of the Mountain Gate exit, when he noticed roughly 100 Starlings dead, all within a 200 yard radius, on the side of the interstate. "Never seen this, never seen's highly unusual," says Wiegand, "The majority of them are right in this area. On the other side of the road, there's almost nothing. That's another unusual thing," he says, pointing across the road from the grass.

Wiegand says the birds, considered a nuisance by farmers, don't appear to have been traumatized, and show no wounds. He does not think they were hit by a semi while flying low, or smashed as they gathered in the road. "I've studied wildlife my whole life. I don't see any signs of trauma, or disease. They are all in one tight location," says Wiegand, as he picks up carcasses with a napkin and places them in a bag. "If they were all hit by a semi as a big group was crossing the road, where's the signs of trauma? These guys look in perfect condition. Where's the busted-up, smashed bodies? Where are the cripples? They're not all gonna be dead. Birds with broken wings can travel for miles on the ground."

Wiegand says he plans to have the carcasses examined.

Meanwhile, after our story aired, a viewer from Red Bluff called and said she believes the birds were poisoned by someone who scattered something toxic on the road as they drove by. She says poison can take effect very quickly in a bird, and they all dropped dead close to where the poison was ingested. Calls to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have not been returned.


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