More than three dozen starlings that died after falling to the ground in Tsawwassen earlier this month likely killed themselves accidentally, according to officials.
It happened on Friday, Sept. 14 near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, with the flock of European starlings plummeting to the ground in a sight that one witness described as “suicide birds.”
The incident left 42 of the starlings dead.
Environment Canada wildlife biologist Laurie Wilson said the rare occurrence appears to have happened as a large flock of starlings tried desperately to avoid a predator bird.
“We had a call from a person who actually saw the event, and what happened is that the birds were doing a murmuration, they were swarming and swooping,” she said.
“The tail end of the flock didn’t navigate the swoop well, and they just followed and hit the ground.”
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Wilson said about 200 birds actually failed to execute the flying maneuver, but the majority of them were only stunned and recovered shortly afterward.
The impact with the ground is what killed the others, she said.
“The vets determined that the cause of death was actually trauma. They had a lot of internal bleeding,” she said.
“The vets did determine that they were all juveniles, so maybe that has something to do with it. You don’t very often hear about birds colliding with the ground in that circumstance.”
— With files from Emily Lazatin