Thousands of Turtle Doves Drop Dead in Italy

With strange blue stains on beaks
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jan 7, 2011 4:27 AM CST

(Newser) – Thousands of turtle doves have fallen dead in the small town of Faenza in Italy, with some of them tragically caught in tree branches like "tiny Christmas balls." Many of the birds had a mysterious blue stain around their beaks, reports the Huffington Post quoting GeaPress. That could be the result of poisoning or signs of hypoxia. Some birds were sent for lab testing, but it will likely be weeks before results are known.

The troubling die-offs are far more common than the public realizes; what's different about the most recent slew is that they're happening in places where we can see them. The US Geological Services database contains at least 16 cases in the last 20 years of large numbers of blackbirds dying in contained areas just like what happened last week in Arkansas. Still, the fact that so many die-offs have occurred in a short space of time is a "rather strange coincidence," a USGS wildlife disease specialist tells PBS.

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