ANIMALS

Hundreds of dead birds on I-95 in Laurel

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Hundreds of birds just dropped from the sky and landed onto I-95 Wednesday, bringing afternoon rush hour traffic to a crawl.

Birds found dead on the highway. (Photo: Brad Bell)

They were common Starlings, and while there were a few in the grass and on the shoulders of the highway, the vast majority landed right on the northbound travel lanes in Laurel.

“We were just kind of curious about running them over and getting them stuck in your tires and all that nastiness,” says Tammy Johnson.

“I travel this all the time and have never seen anything like that before,” says Ray Wheltle.

Traffic backed up as drivers slowed down out of concern for the birds and their cars.

A highway crew swept and shoveled what they could while the drivers crept by scratching their heads. State biologists say they've also seen Starlings, which tend to fly in large tight flocks, crash into the sides of tractor trailers.

Some suspect something sinister.

"Environmental hazards, toxins in the air and in the environment maybe," a person said.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist Peter Bedel believes the Starlings flew into a truck. He does not suspect any disease and is sending samples to a lab just in case.

Laurel resident Dan Kennedy said something weird happened nearby a week or two ago.

"A bunch of birds flying into a parking lot and diving in thinking its water," Kennedy said. "A bunch of birds died."

Some are linking the deaths to similar incidents elsewhere.

"Down in Alabama or Mississippi something like that where a whole bunch of birds just died and fell out of the sky," said Richmond resident Doug Morris.

One possible culprit is nearby power lines. The birds could have encountered something deadly simultaneously. But with no definitive cause named for killing the birds, some continue to worry about a hidden danger to themselves.

"We're next, they're the canaries," a person said.

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