1,500 Birds Crash, Die in Utah

But 3,000 survive the crash
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2011 2:23 PM CST
A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources employee frees some surviving grebes on Dec. 13 at Stratton Pond in Hurricane, Utah, after thousands crash landed throughout southern Utah.   (AP Photo/Utah Division of Wildlife Services, Lynn Chamberlain)

(Newser) – Storm clouds gathered over Utah on Monday, but what wound up raining down from the sky were birds. Thousands of eared grebes dived into roads and parking lots across Cedar City and St. George, apparently mistaking the flat surfaces for water, the LA Times reports. About 1,500 birds died in the incident, but many more survived the plunge—officials have so far rescued more than 3,000 of the duck-like birds, and released them into the water.

It's not unheard of for birds to occasionally take such fatal plunges, "but this is by far the largest we've had," a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said. She added that rescuing the survivors was necessary, because while they're good at swimming and flying, eared grebes "are essentially useless for getting around on land." (Read more dead birds stories.)

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