NPR logo It Gets Weirder: Hundreds Of Dead Blackbirds Line Louisiana Highway


It Gets Weirder: Hundreds Of Dead Blackbirds Line Louisiana Highway

"State biologists are trying to determine what killed an estimated 500 birds that littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana" the AP reports.

Pointe Coupee is just 300 miles south of Beebe, Ark., where as you will no doubt remember, thousands of red-winged blackbirds and starlings fell from the sky on New Year's Eve.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that motorists "stopped and gawked" on Monday at the hundreds of birds that lay dead along Louisiana's Route 1. The Monitor adds that some of the dead birds are on their way to a lab to find out what happened.

It's likely, they report, this was a controlled killing:

Since blackbirds are considered a nuisance by farmers, the mass death in Louisiana could be attributable to a legal pest control effort. Pest control experts kill blackbird roosts in several ways, including spraying water on birds to induce hypothermia or by using legal poisons. Most such poisons work quickly, but a botched control attempt could mean that birds may have flown away from the roost and died nearby.

Update at 7:13 p.m.: The AP reports that Louisiana's state wildlife veterinarians say some of the birds may have flown into a power line:

Jim LaCour said Tuesday the grackles, starlings, brown-headed cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds had broken beaks and backs. He says some live birds had broken wings but ran too fast to catch.