HomeNewsCrow Die-Off in Missouri Remains a Mystery Pending Test Results

Crow Die-Off in Missouri Remains a Mystery Pending Test Results

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

So, there’s this viral video with a massive Missouri crow die-off, and the verdict’s out on this mystery as we wait for test results.

Last week’s crow deaths near the St. Louis federal courthouse took social media by storm. Field and Stream reported that the Missouri Department of Conservation tried to find out what happened, turning into investigators.

The agency told KSDK that they eliminated gunplay and unknown predators. They also ruled out a struggle, physical injury, or bleeding in the bird deaths.

At first, they thought poison was the culprit, but that got nixed

Rapid Bird Flu? We Don’t Know Yet

The World Bird Sanctuary in nearby Valley Park suggested some bird sickness.

Executive director Roger Holloway said that avian sickness could be the cause. Holloway told KSDK that “seasonally, crows and many other birds will group in large flocks, especially in the winter before breeding season in the spring.” 

Holloway pondered the Missouri crow deaths a little more, saying if the birds died from a virus or bacteria, it would “spread more rapidly.” 

Sure, bird die-offs aren’t new or exclusive to St. Louis. Holloway said researchers have seen past die-offs from West Nile Virus in bird autopsies.

Cornell University researchers say over 250 bird species can get the West Nile Virus. But death comes just for corvids like crows, ravens, and blue jays.

On Friday, MDC received partial lab results from the first group of crows. There’s no word when the complete necropsies and tests will come back. For now, we’ll just wait on all of the Missouri DOC results. 

Location Has Seen Crow Deaths For Months

That drastic video was something else. But, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, crow corpses are nothing new to the courthouse and a small nearby park.

Area workers say the birds show up around sunset and roost in trees and the courthouse. Some roost on light and camera poles and the lower part of the courthouse roof. Crow sightings include ledges that go up at least 19 floors. 

One employee told the newspaper that staff members pick up the dead birds every day for more than a week. 

“Some days it’s five or 10, other days more than 20,” said the employee, who declined to give his name. 

Staff members have “Googled” reasons for the bird deaths without pinpointing one specific cause. 

Counting Crows And Fighting Them Off

The St. Louis Dispatch recounted other cities and their efforts to ward off crows. Some cities use noisemakers, plastic falcons, and lasers with little or no success.

Recently, Rottler Pest Solutions set up 12 speakers to play the sounds of a predatory bird capturing another bird, said Jay Everitt, technical director for Rottler Pest Solutions.

But there’s no telling if that’ll be a temporary fix or what.