HomeOutdoorsNewsStormy Winter Weather Causes Utah Birds to Kill Themselves

Stormy Winter Weather Causes Utah Birds to Kill Themselves

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by: Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A winter storm has caused numerous Utah birds to crash into the ground and perish, according to state wildlife officials. These incidents can oftentimes result in death or injury.

The events aren’t unprecedented. Back in December 2011, thousands of waterbirds crashed into ground in Utah after a harsh storm. Around 1,500 birds died.

The main type of waterbird accidentally killing itself through these winter storms is a black-necked grebe, or eared grebe. These birds oftentimes make stops across Utah as they migrate across the country. They normally need lakes and ponds to take off or land during these migrations. However, when water builds up during storms, these birds may try landing in what they perceive to be a lake or a pond. If they’re wrong and they find the ground, it often results in injury or death.

It’s now been reported that several of these eared grebes have landed in open areas of Utah on Monday night. The crash-landings occurred in Iron and Washington counties, which are located in the southwest corner of the state.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) shared the news to Facebook in a Tuesday post.

The UDWR reported that these Utah birds have these crash landings each year. However, they shared that a huge number of birds all crashing at once, as has recently occurred, remains “more uncommon.”

Despite sharing the sad news, the UDWR also maintained that the bird-crashing events don’t normally affect the total populations of eared grebes.

Utah Birds Crash-Land in the State Each Year, According to Officials

Utah has been under severe weather warnings throughout the state for the past few days. The National Weather Service extended its advisories into Wednesday. They expect heavy snow for the northern parts of the state, which could again affect more Utah birds and their ability to land safely.

A few people commented on UDWR’s Facebook post, with some commenters saying they’ve seen the phenomenon before.

“In my memories this morning was a reminder that these little fellas did the same thing here in Cedar City several years ago,” they wrote. “Migration at its finest.”

“Found two out here in Vernon,” another said. “Dropped them off at the local pond.”

The UDWR closed their post with a final message to local residents. “If you see one of these birds on the ground, dead or alive, please call our Cedar City or Hurricane offices and they can help remove or relocate the bird.”

In a related incident, Illinois officials announced that they found over 300 dead birds that they suspect have died from avian flu. The news comes during the country’s deadliest outbreak of bird flu in its recorded history.

Officials in Illinois tell local residents to notify wildlife officials if they see 20 or more dead birds in one location.