Sue Hendrie's picture

Dead Bird Falls From Sky

Observed: 29th January 2012 By: Sue HendrieSue Hendrie’s reputation in BirdsSue Hendrie’s reputation in Birds
Dead Bird

We were driving on a main road through open open fields near to Henley when a medium sized brown bird tumbled down out of the misty sky and hit the road just in front of us on its back with its feet straight up in the air. A Monty Pythonish moment! There wasn't any shooting in the area but the temperature was only 3 degrees + windchill. Could the bird have died of cold/exhaustion? Unfortunately it was not safe to stop and see what sort of bird it was, hence my dismal sketch.

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Wildlife Ranger's picture

I really like the sketch :)

I really like the sketch :) :) Given the temp Cold or Possible electric Cables around ??

Best Wishes


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Sue Hendrie's picture

I hadn't thought

of electric cables but I'll have a look next time I'm over that way. It was a very bizarre incident!

Sue Hendrie

Gwatch's picture

Possibly a

Norwegian Blue?

Sue Hendrie's picture


"Prefers keepin on its back"

Sue Hendrie

bobthebirder's picture

dropping birds

I have 2 theories:

a) the bird died in mid flight, due to the cold, a heart attack or hitting cables

b) the bird was dropped by a predator, such as a peregrine

I have witnessed several such events in the past from all of these causes.

Bob Ford

the naturalist man's picture

Dead bird

The most likely is the cold air, would there be peregrine around Henley at this time of year?

One interesting point about power transmission lines, is that it is almost impossible for a bird to be electrocuted by them; they would have to touch two lines at the same time (therefore the size of a small plane)or there be a fluke atmospheric condition which would lead to electricity arcing between the bird touching one line from another. Also many species can sense the magnetic field around the active transmission lines and avoid them. The commonest way birds die is by hitting the earth cable at the top as they try to go over the lines carrying the power, that is why baffles are usually only put on the earth line. Very often the larger bird are decapitated when they hit the earth line.

I have another theory about transmission lines and towers, you find more dead birds under the towers when the temperature drops below freezing, I wonder if birds roost on the towers and then die of hyperthermia due to heat loss through their feet from standing on clod metal.

Graham Banwell

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Refugee's picture

Transmission towers

Some of these are badly designed and birds can perch close to the insulators so that they arc over and kill the bird. Others have locations that are easy to perch on above the insulators so that they get contaminated with droppings also causing a hazard.
Most of the larger ones in the Uk are not too bad on either of these issues. In some locations i have seen them with "crossbars" above sloping insulators. Now that is just asking for it!


Sue Hendrie's picture

Thanks for all the very interesting suggestions

and thoughts about transmission lines and towers.

I've just checked the RSPB Otmoor website and apparently there is a peregrine there at the moment - only about 20 miles away "as the crow flies". It would be great to have a peregrine around Wallingford where we have a burgeoning pigeon problem in the town. However, I suspect as you suggest Graham it was the cold.

Sue Hendrie

dejayM's picture

Lovely but dead

This post is unusual and it has generated a lovely comment trail
I am forming a project and it might be useful on a number of counts.
Can please consider adding the Tag illustration1 no caps, not gaps. Just temporarily whilst I find my feet - please?
It will serve to suggest that sometimes a field sketch is all we might have and, whilst it is tongue in cheek, does illustrate the value of such things.