Mystery surrounds unexplained bird deaths
November 26, 2015 | 13 comments
Why are starlings drowning themselves ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Mick Lobb
Scientists have been struggling to explain why some UK garden birds are drowning themselves en masse.
Starlings, which were once a common sight across the British Isles, have declined in numbers by as much as 79% in recent years, mostly due to a loss of nesting sites and insect food sources.
Now however a new and more mysterious killer is on the loose - one that seems to be causing the birds to drown themselves in garden ponds in groups of up to ten at a time.
So far no conclusive explanation has been found for the phenomenon but there is evidence to indicate that it may have been going on for several years.
These unexplained deaths typically appear to occur during the spring and early summer and investigators have never found any sign of disease in any of the specimens.
"Drowning appears to be a more common cause of death amongst younger birds, as they may be inexperienced in identifying water hazards," said lead researcher Dr Becki Lawson.
"This combined with the fact that starlings are a highly social species could potentially explain why multiple birds drown together."
"With starling numbers declining in general across the UK, we need to learn more about how and where these phenomena happen."
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