Dozens of birds fall from sky in Tsawwassen, B.C.

By Staff Writer

On September 14, dozens of starlings suddenly dropped from the skies onto the pavement in an episode reminiscent of a scene from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

“The poor little guys were in blood pools and stuff. It was horrible,” said Kevin Beech, a local who witnessed the aftermath. Other witnesses described the event like mass suicide, one calling it a “birdageddon”.

The Orphaned Wildlife (OWL) Rehabilitation Society in Delta, B.C. was contacted anonymously about the event, and it took several days before the bodies were located near the ferry terminal. Someone had covered the bodies with a plastic sheet, and OWL volunteers located 42 bodies.

Rob Hope, a raptor care manager at OWL, identified the birds as European Starlings. “Sometimes it happens with migratory birds, but with starlings not being migratory, it could be due to a toxin, it could be a pesticide in the area, or there could be something else going on,” Hope told the Toronto Star. Hope speculated that hunger or stormy weather may have stressed the birds, but that a cause of death is still very uncertain.

Although extremely rare for European Starling to fall from the skies in B.C., many other mass bird deaths have occurred around the world for various reasons. Soaring temperatures in Australia have caused birds to fall from the sky in heat stroke, and in 2011, thousands of birds in Arkansas died from fireworks causing disorientation and the birds crashed into power lines and trees.

The starlings from Tsawwassen have been sent to the Canadian Wildlife Service for testing, and it could be a while before the cause of death is revealed. “Nobody really knows, and we won’t know for some time,” Hope told the Toronto Star.