Mass La. bird deaths puzzle investigators
Koran Addo|2The Advocate
LABARRE — Hundreds of dead and dying birds littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish on Monday as motorists drove over and around them.
State biologists are trying to determine what led to the deaths of the estimated 500 red-winged blackbirds and starlings on La. 1 just down the road from Pointe Coupee Central High School.
The discovery of the dead birds — some of which were lying face down, clumped in groups, while others were face up with their wings outstretched and rigid legs pointing upward — comes just three days after more than 3,000 blackbirds rained down from the sky in Beebe, Ark.
Necropsies performed Monday on the birds in Arkansas showed the birds suffered internal injuries that formed blood clots leading to their deaths, The Associated Press reported.
In Louisiana, biologists with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spent part of the day Monday scooping up some of the birds in Pointe Coupee Parish to be sent for testing at labs in Georgia and Wisconsin.
The remaining carcasses were still on the roadway, on the shoulder and in drainage ditches Monday afternoon as some motorists sped past, flattening birds lying in the roadway, while other drivers slowed down to gawk.
State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour said he planned to drive to Pointe Coupee to pick up some of the bird carcasses to study.
Lab tests could take several weeks to come up with an explanation for the deaths, and LaCour declined to speculate on possible causes; however, he did say massive bird deaths have been known to occur in the state in the past, albeit in smaller numbers.