HOUSTON -- Wildlife experts in Texas are weighing in after large amounts of dead birds were reportedly found across the country and around the world.
On New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Ariz., wildlife officials say they received reports of more than 5,000 blackbirds, starlings, and sparrows found dead in yards, roads and on roofs.
Just days later, 400 miles from Beebe in Labarre, La., reports came in of about 1,000 blackbirds and starlings found dead.
On Wednesday, there were new reports of groupings of dead birds in Sweden, and near Tyler, Texas.
“I think it can be alarming,” said Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologist Winston Denton.
Denton is a member of the department’s “Kills and Spills” team. He saids bird kills are not uncommon, especially when dealing with blackbirds.
Denton said blackbirds don’t have a lot of regulatory protection and they travel in large numbers.
“We have an average of probably one a year along the upper Texas coast. It’s most common to happen in the winter time to late spring,” he said.
Because blackbirds travel in such large groups you are likely to have numbers in the hundreds when something goes wrong, Denton said.
Wildlife experts have not determined what caused the birds to die in any of the incidents.
In Arkansas, investigators noted massive trauma to the birds. It’s been reported that it could be due to fireworks or lighting.
In Louisiana, the dead birds showed no sign of trauma.
Wildlife experts in Texas said the incident near Tyler on the Highway 155 Bridge over Lake O’ the Pines involved coots that were likely hit by cars. The Army Corps of Engineers does not believe it is connected to the cases in Arkansas or Louisiana.
Still, wildlife experts along the Gulf Coast are monitoring the situation just in case disease is behind the deaths.
“One of our main concerns would be whether it’s going to affect a larger population, or if it’s possible for disease to cross types or population of birds,” said Denton.