First the black birds landed unsteadily in the treetops of Winnipeg, thousands of them. The birds acted so strangely, as they staggered on rooftops and cars, and then they began falling dead, the streets littered with corpses.
In what is being described as a scene straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, hundreds of black birds, possibly grackles, began flocking in a “bizarre manner” atop trees, rooftops, and vehicles in Winnipeg’s north end. And then they just started to drop one by one “like raindrops.” Animal experts are baffled.
Conservation officers have collected more than 50 dead birds near the intersection of King Street and Dufferin Avenue, while the city’s Humane Society recovered almost a dozen birds that were still alive. Those still living were severely disoriented, appearing dizzy and unable to stand or fly.
The CBC reports:
"There was probably, I would say … almost up to the thousand birds in the trees, and then I was looking up and then one fell right in front of me," said Tanya Lee Viner.
Susan Tiganagis, who works at a Main Street chip shop, said she saw a "blanket of black" in the lane behind the store.
"My husband said, like, 'This is a Hitchcock movie.' It's crazy!" Tiganagis said.
"They were just dizzy. They didn't know where they were going. I've never seen them act like that," she added.
Later that morning, dozens of birds started dropping from the sky. The streets near the intersection of King and Dufferin became littered with bird carcasses.
"They were literally falling out of the trees and they were still dying," Tiganagis said.
"You couldn't step anywhere without stepping on a bird."
Workers at a nearby community services agency said they saw dozens of birds falling from the sky at around 10:30 a.m.
Remains of the birds will be sent to a lab for further study.
As for the cause, there’s speculation about everything ranging from poison through to cell towers and environmental toxins. Early tests of one bird’s stomach contents didn’t reveal anything abnormal.
Images: Boris Minkevich/Winnipeg Free Press.