Words about Birds

Hmm, wonder what's up with this? Have to ask my reporters on the spot....

Party Crashers

Bird Deaths Shut Down Downtown Austin | Chicago Tribune :
Texas health officials are trying to determine what killed dozens of birds whose remains prompted a temporary shutdown of 10 blocks of downtown Austin. Police closed a section of downtown for several hours Monday after 63 birds were found dead in the street, but officials said preliminary tests found no threat to people.

Workers in yellow hazardous-materials suits tested for contaminants in a cordoned-off area near the state Capitol and the governor's mansion before authorities finally gave the all-clear in the afternoon.

Dr. Adolfo Valadez, medical director for the Austin and Travis County Health and Human Services Division, said the dead grackles, sparrows and pigeons were to be tested for signs of poison or viral infections. Officials did not believe bird flu was involved.

Grackles are a crowlike bird regarded as a major pest in Texas, with Austin sidewalks sometimes covered in their droppings.

Some experts said the most likely cause of the die-off was a deliberate poisoning. “It happens quite frequently,” said Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation at the National Audubon Society in Washington.

The dead birds were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a major downtown thoroughfare.

The Birds (Collector's Edition)
“The Birds (Collector's Edition)” (Universal Studios)

(Austinist has more, sorta)

my on-the-spot reporter adds:

Well, it was a weird morning to say the least. They shut down 10 blocks of Congress Avenue (2nd St. to 11th St.) and a block east and west (to Brazos on the east and Colorado on the west) all the way down. Because our building is on Congress [redacted] we weren't allowed into our building until almost 1 p.m. A few of my co-workers somehow snuck in and worked all day. I just sat at home in my bathrobe and watched the news develop until they opened the roads at about 12:40)

They sent the deceased birds off for testing so we won't know the cause for days. They keep saying they think it is poisonings, but I suspect a gas/chemical leak. Here is why:

--The news reported that two of the first police officers on the scene had odd symptoms such as dizziness.
--My co-worker watched the first broadcast of the story at 5:45 a.m. The reporter said that her and her cameraman had a metallic taste in their mouths. As soon as she said that on air, a police officer asked her to move to another corner to finish her story.
--They are reporting that the bird species they found were grackle, sparrow and pigeons. However, a maintenance man in my building told me today that he found a dead hawk outside our building. He turned it over to the City. I thought after hearing of the other birds dying that they could have eaten poisoned bird seed, but a hawk wouldn't eat that seed.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on January 9, 2007 11:20 AM.

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