People looking up know it. Animals on the ground know it. Environmentalists watching for signs of impending disasters know it. Charles Forte knew it. Other flying feathered creatures know it. What do they know? Birds falling from the sky is NEVER a good sign.
“It was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.”
There’s no need point out that it wasn’t “Psycho” witness Kevin Beech was referring to when he described to a reporter from Peace Arch News what he saw on September 14 on his way to the Tsawwassen First Nation reservation in British Columbia. (photos here)
“All of a sudden I see something just out of the corner of my eye that’s hitting the ground and I just say ‘what the hell was that,’ There’s all these poor little guys dead all over the ground.”
The “poor little guys” were birds, and before Beech saw them on the ground, another witness, Shawn Phillips, told CBC News what was happening in the air.
“Swarms of birds doing aerial events.”
However, there was something strange about these “aerial events.” Phillips says he saw one bird do a loop and then unexpectedly nosedive to a crashing, bloody death.
"Man it was unexpected. It was unreal to see. It was spooky to see … there were no survivors."
Beech says he took a photo of the dozens of dead or nearly dead birds (“some were still walking around and twitching”) to post on Facebook and left. When he returned with friends just ten minutes later, the corpses were gone.
“ … that was almost creepy in a way.”
“Creepy” is a good description. But not in the way you might think. In less than ten minutes, Rob Hope, the raptor care manager at Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, was notified and sent out a volunteer to pick up all of the birds. There were 42 European starlings and …
“They were all in good body condition.”
Except for the dead part.
“"Most of the flocking birds at this time of the year ... will not only be stressed but malnourished and that can cause their bodies to shut down and just drop from the sky … It could be stress, starvation, some sort of toxin… it’s a wait-and-see game until the testing is done.”
The testing is being done by the Canadian Wildlife Service, an arm of Environment Canada, which creepily referred to this as a “mortality event” … a term developed by PR people to avoid having to say “dead birds falling from the sky for no apparent reason.” Especially when an experienced wildlife expert like Rob Hope is asked if he’s ever seen anything like this before.
“Not personally and not in my life time.”
Sure, it’s only 42 European starlings, you say. That’s true. But coal miners only need to see one dead canary fall from its perch before they turn and run for their lives.
What happened Tsawwassen isn't a movie, it's worse than "creepy" and it's happening more and more frequently around the world.
Is this our coal mine moment?