Via The Guardian: Dozens of birds fall from sky in Boston, dead from unknown cause. Excerpt:
Dozens of birds have mysteriously fallen out of the sky in Boston, prompting health officials to launch an investigation.
A total of 47 grackles rained down upon the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston on Thursday. The Animal Rescue League of Boston said that 32 of these birds died, either at the scene or afterwards as rescuers attempted to tend to them. The remaining birds are in “good condition” and will be sent to a wildlife center in Grafton, Massachusetts.
The Animal Rescue League said it also gave “emergency treatment” to a cat at the scene, but it died. Another cat also reportedly died, with homeowners advised to keep their cats and dogs indoors and check what they are eating.
“When I arrived, birds would fly, like from a house to a tree, they would flop in the tree and they would fall to the ground,” said Alan Borgal of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “The weaker ones were just falling right out the sky.”
City officials have sent the dead grackles, which are a type of songbird that travels in flocks, to Tufts University to help determine the cause of death. It is currently unclear whether the birds perished due to a virus, some sort of environmental pollution or intentional poisoning. Test results are expected next week.
“We don’t know what is going on,” said John Meaney of the city of Boston’s Inspectional Services. “So we are investigating all avenues.”
Over ten years ago, I posted a report by Declan Butler on H5N1 in Indonesia, in which he quoted a consultant for the Food and Agricultural Organization who said that local Indonesians had a name for bird flu, based on the "plop" sound a chicken makes when it falls out of a tree. The consultant also said the name for the cat form of H5N1 was "aaargh plop," based on the sound of a cat falling out of a tree.
Of course, if this really were high-path H5N1 in North America, which I doubt, the story wouldn't be so funny.