Many residents are confused after finding a flock of dead birds on a Western New York street.

Matthew Meranto of Grand Island was driving down River Road in Tonawanda when he saw nine dead birds, each one separated by just a few feet of each other.

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One woman named Lisa said she saw the birds as well. In a Facebook comment under the initial post, she said, “If you are referring to the way towards the GI bridge, I noticed this myself this morning. Then the next thing I know there's 10+ birds in the road and I ended up hitting one too. I felt horrible about it.

Someone shared a photo of one of the dead birds with us, which I have omitted due to the graphic nature of the bird, but it appears to be a flock of double-crested cormorant. 

Meranto said that every few feet, there was a dead bird.

Nobody really knows what might have caused this, but earlier this year, a flock of 11 Brandt cormorants were discovered by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. After some close examination and analysis, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife found that these 11 birds died of starvation.

These 11 birds were relatively young and might have been inexperienced, but that’s not the only instance where dead birds were found by the bundle.

A veterinarian at the International Bird Rescue in San Pedro identified a parasitic organism that caused “cysts and swelling in the cormorants’ brains,” according to International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife.  

This disease has been called Sarcocystis calchasi, and researchers believe that it lives in bird poop. When birds eat poop, they take on that disease that was in the waste.

For the birds on River Rd, nothing has yet been confirmed in the event of their deaths. Matthew Meranto, who first made the public aware of the dead birds in Tonawanda, ended up reporting the flock of deceased double-crested cormorants to the DEC, who said they would look into it. Once we find out the cause of these birds’ deaths, we will update you.
We have also reached out to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for further information.

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