A video that shows a large group of birds dropping dead for seemingly no reason outside a home in Chihuahua, Mexico is being explained by experts.
After dozens of dead birds were found, a security camera was consulted for any hint of what happened to them. Unfortunately, that video was so bizarre that it created more questions than answers.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Security footage shows a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds drop dead in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua pic.twitter.com/mR4Zhh979K
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 14, 2022
There were several theories from social media users as to what could have caused such a shocking event.
What if their dense proximity exceeded a threshold where flapping wings met no air to generate lift – and as a result to hey fell together as a partially vacuumed ball. Some made it but others slammed into the ground?
— Hetch (@elmanzah) February 14, 2022
Magnetic field issues.
We’re not being told anything about it but birds are tell tale signs.
— Damnyouwhos (@CossAlex) February 14, 2022
I wouldn’t be surprised. God is pissed.
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@mattiekingori) February 14, 2022
Lmao! They got to close the the line and the entire flock got shock because of their proximity to each other and the floor. The ones closest to the line got fried probably, while the ones farthest got a jolt and kept going
— Joey (@joeygallinal) February 14, 2022
Experts say, however, that the flock dropping was a natural instinct called “murmuration” which causes them to fly in patterns.
According to a statement to The Guardian from Richard Broughton with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, it’s likely there was a predator bird like a raptor flying above the group. This, he believes, caused their natural instincts to kick in and forced them closer to the ground.
“This looks like a raptor, like a peregrine or hawk, has been chasing a flock, like they do with murmurating starlings, and they have crashed as the flock was forced low,” he said. “You can see that they act like a wave at the beginning, as if they are being flushed from above.”
Dr. Alexander Lees, who lectures on conservation biology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that the dead birds hit the ground during the murmuration and died as a result, but the flock was unlikely to have been influenced by environmental factors, like some had initially believed.
“For my part and from one video and no toxicology, I’d still say the most probable cause is the flock murmurating to avoid a predatory raptor and hitting the ground,” he noted. “”There always seems to be a kneejerk response to blame environmental pollutants, but collisions with infrastructure are very common. In a tightly packed flock, the birds are following the movements of the bird in front rather than actually interpreting their wider surroundings, so it isn’t unexpected that such events happen occasionally.”
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