Monday, January 08, 2007

Dead birds in Austin Texas today

In the early morning hours today, this story hit the press: "Bird deaths shut down downtown Austin"
AUSTIN, Texas - Police shut down 10 blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown early Monday after dozens of birds were found dead in the streets, but officials said preliminary tests showed no dangerous chemicals in the air. As many as 60 dead pigeons, sparrows and grackles were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a main route through downtown...
Officials do not think Bird Flu is involved, however at least one bird carcass was being tested locally for other possible causes, and other carcasses were shipped to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Texas A&M University.
"A 10-block stretch of Congress Avenue, several side streets and all buildings in the area were shut down and declared off-limits as a precaution, Chovanetz said."
Just a few short weeks ago, and just north of Austin there were 3,400 dead mallard ducks discovered along Land Creek Springs, about 150 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho -- north of Austin, as the crow flies.

Now... if they come out with news that the "official cause of death" is acute aspergillosis, I'm really going to start wondering what's up.

A bit about what the birds eat:

Common Grackels: "During migration and winter, common grackles eat mostly grains from farm fields and seeds, particularly corn and acorns. They also eat some fruits."

Common Sparrows: "Emberizids are typically omnivorous (both insectivorous and grainivorous). They primarily eat seeds during the winter and insects during the summer."

Common Pigeons: "Studies of pigeons in a semi-rural part of Kansas found that their diet includes the following: 92% corn, 3.2% oats, 3.7% cherry, along with small amounts of knotweed, elm, poison ivy, and barley. In cities, feral pigeons also eat popcorn, cake, peanuts, bread, and currants."

You know, this story kind of makes you wonder what happened to the pigeons that died in 2003 in Texas.

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