the shepherd's picture

Fallen Parliament!

Observed: 10th December 2010 By: the shepherdthe shepherd’s reputation in Birdsthe shepherd’s reputation in Birds

24 bird corpses seen in maize stubble field. All within about 5 metre radius. Cause of death not known but no shooting occurs on this land. Very strange!

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Norwichnaturalist's picture


Why were these birds not disposed of this is unacceptable

Colin Jacobs.
Wild Flower Society member

the shepherd's picture

Colin Jacobs

These rooks were observed during an afternoon walk on farm land near to our village. They appear to have been there for a considerable period of time as they were very decomposed. I assume the farmer would not have known as they were on a remote stubble that wouldn't be actively farmed until the spring.

jonmortin's picture

Decomposing rooks

maybe not nice to us but potentially a banquet for other creatures (eg fly larvae,burying beetles etc)which will themselves be a vital food source for birds and other insectivores...

allrounder's picture

Not so if the birds had been

Not so if the birds had been poisoned

Please see my Flickr photo's

the shepherd's picture


This is clearly tragic for this bird community. However, i wonder what could have caused such an event, whether it is common and whether it can be prevented?

foxy's picture


As a farmer (livestock not tillage)I would have thought poison too ,but I dont know why you would want to poison crows in a harvested field .In my view if the crop maize was standing these birds wouldnn"t have fallen so close together ,and would have been trampled during harvesting.
In any event they should have been disposed of properly.Could they have been there since planting do you think?


anonymous spotter's picture

Symbolic perhaps -

of the state of the nation?
Seriously, poisoning springs to mind: perhaps poisoned bait put out for another species (raptor or fox, maybe); but such poisons are not usually that quick, and you'd not usually expect them all to die together.
"No shooting occurs on this land" is almost always questionable in my sad experience, but so many birds in such a small area is again a bit odd.

Andrew Goodall's picture

Rook Deaths

As mentioned by others this is very concerning. My immediate thoughts would be poison and likely done to attract raptors. I would advise collection using gloves and send for analysis. It is possible they had been poisoned elsewhere and placed there.

If it is in the village where you live have you approached the farmer?


the shepherd's picture


I have indeed informed the farmer. He is as shocked and concerned as i am. It would be unlikely i think to use these birds as a poisoned bait. The location has no stock or poultry farming in the vacinity nor released pheasants etc. Is any natural explanation possible?

anonymous spotter's picture

Natural/semi-natural explanations-

None seem very plausible, but perhaps lightning strike, or aeroplane collision?

the shepherd's picture

I'm sure you're right, not

I'm sure you're right, not very plausible, but maybe a more pleasant possible explanation than deliberate or not poisoning.

anonymous spotter's picture

A similar event -

is reported from America (see, and the cause is suggested to be a firework display.
Given that fireworks (usually of the very loud, repetitively explosive kind) seem to have become an essential part of celebrations from birthdays to notable sports events -when a home team wins that is, this is another possibility.

(Doesn't that make me sound like a grumpy old man!)

anonymous spotter's picture

A further twist -

I don't think this is related, but the following news story ran on the BBC web site on 12/01/11:
"Birds that were thought to have died from avian flu in Romania instead apparently drank themselves to death.
Residents of Constanta in eastern Romania found dozens of dead starlings on the outskirts of the city on Saturday.
They alerted authorities, fearing the birds had died from avian flu.
But local veterinary officials decided the starlings had died after eating grape 'marc' - the leftovers from the wine-making process... analysis of the starlings' gizzards showed they had died from alcohol poisoning."