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200+ Starlings Found Mysteriously Dead on Welsh Road

Animals
Example of starlings murmuration pictured in Scotland. Tanya Hart / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Police in Wales are in the midst of an unusual investigation: the sudden death of more than 200 starlings.


The birds were found on a road in Anglesey, an island off the Welsh coast, The Guardian reported. The bodies were discovered Tuesday afternoon on the road and in the hedges nearby, but none of them were found in the surrounding fields.

"It's as if they just dropped down dead from the sky," 41-year-old Dafydd Edwards, whose partner discovered the birds, told BBC News.

Edwards' partner Hannah Stevens, who first noticed the birds, said she saw a "massive flock" fly through the sky and then land and eat something on the road, North Wales Live reported.

An hour later, they were dead.

"I counted 150 last night but I gave up as there's just hundreds of them littered everywhere," Edwards told BBC News.

The North Wales Police (NWP) think approximately 225 birds died. The Animal and Plant Health Agency has collected bodies for testing to determine the cause of death.

The police were initially stumped by the investigation, and put out calls for help.

"It happened yesterday evening at around 3:40pm so if you have any information or if you might have seen it happen here because it is very strange, please let us know," police constable (PC) Dewi Evans said, according to North Wales Live.

But in a Tweet Wednesday evening, the NWP's Rural Crime Team hinted that they may have cracked the case.

"We believe we may have the reason now...but we are awaiting the toxicology and post mortem results before releasing it," they wrote.

During their investigation, the police discovered this might not be the first time a mass death of starlings has occurred in that particular location.

"We're hearing one story that it happened in exactly the same place many, many years ago so we're just trying to confirm that as well," NWP Rural Crime Team Manager Rob Taylor told North Wales Live.

In a similar case in Canada in 2018, more than 40 starlings died when they hit the pavement near a British Columbia ferry terminal, CTV News reported. Wildlife officials determined the birds had been fleeing a larger bird, and the birds who died failed to pull out of a dive in time.

A mass death of more than 350 starlings in the Hague in the Netherlands during the fall of 2018 was also determined to be caused when the birds panicked and collided with the ground, according to The Holland Times.

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