New police theory over mystery deaths of starlings

North Wales Police

It’s believed more than 200 birds found dead on a country road may have been trying to avoid a bird of prey.

Rural crime detectives have released their initial findings after a post-mortem was carried out on a flock of starlings found lying on a road near Llyn Llywenan in Bodedern last month.

The full toxicology results have not yet been received, but police say the inital findings support the theory that the starlings were healthy before they hit the ground.

In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Rob Taylor, rural crime manager for North Wales Police, said some of the starlings were found ”still alive but weak” and unable to fly before they died.

Most of the 225-strong flock were found dead on the road, while 29 birds were entangled in the bramble or branches in the hedgerow with one implaed on a small branch, which had pierced through its body.

In all, 35 birds were taken away for examination – including one with a ring on its left leg, which was attached in Ventes Ragas, Lithuania in 2015.

All of the starlings examined by the Animal and Plant Health Agency found they suffered severe internal trauma from impact.

Preliminary tests carried out by Defra ruled out bird flu and also indiciated death from trauma and internal bleeding as a result of impact with the ground.

Rob Taylor said: ”The trauma supports the case that the birds died from impact with the road. It’s highly likely the murmuration took avoiding action whilst airborne, from possibly a bird of prey, with the rear of the group not pulling up in time and striking the ground.”

”We still await toxicology, but from speaking to many people, looking at the injuries and previous worldwide cases, it appears by taking avoiding flight action, the murmuration has flown towards the ground and pulled up, but some have not made it.”

He added: ”Some theories were truly incredible and out of this world…we can only work on hard evidence, previous cases and professional opinion.”

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