The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 4, 2014

Birds fall dead from the sky near Norman

OKLAHOMA CITY — Birds were seen falling dead out of the sky in Norman, alarming some residents, though state wildlife officials say there's no cause for concern.

A homeowner near Oklahoma 9 and Interstate 35 found more than a dozen birds in her yard Thursday.

Becki Miller of Norman said she heard a thump and noticed a bird had just fallen. Over the course of 24 hours, she observed at least a dozen birds drop dead in her yard, and worried the birds had been poisoned or were diseased.

Another 20 birds were found Thursday within a square mile of Miller's home.

Micah Holmes, information supervisor with the Department of Wildlife, said this is not a rare phenomenon this time of year and homeowners should not be concerned.

"It's certainly not common, but it's not rare either," Holmes said. "It's a time of year that's stressful for these birds because they're migrating long distances."

Holmes said the birds are also in the process of mating, which causes them to fight one another, and although the weather seems nice enough to humans, there are not a lot of seeds or other things for the birds to eat as they travel.

The food scarcity makes this a vulnerable time of year for them," Holmes said. "It makes them susceptible to illness, and since they're migrating there are a lot more birds close together, so illness passes among the birds a lot more quickly."

Although only around 30 birds were found in Norman Thursday, Holmes said they are likely part of a much larger flock of 10-20,000 birds of different varieties.

"When people see these birds they're tempted to just call them all blackbirds because they are black, but the flock usually consists of primarily red wing blackbirds, common grackles and brown headed cowbirds," Holmes said. "We as wildlife management try to keep it in perspective: these are large flocks of birds, so it does not have a large effect on bird populations."

Holmes said anyone who is concerned by bird deaths can report issues to the Department of Wildlife.

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AP Source: KWTV

 

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