Test Results Confirm Pointe Coupee Bird Deaths Caused by Trauma

Release Date: 01/27/2011

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has confirmed with tests conducted by three independent labs that the bird deaths in Pointe Coupee Parish on Jan. 3 were caused by trauma.
The 500 birds found dead along a stretch of LA Hwy. 1 between New Roads and Morganza included red wing blackbirds, starlings, brown-headed cowbirds and grackles. Sample carcasses were sent to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia in Athens, the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, IA.
LDWF preliminary evaluations on Jan. 3 indicated trauma as a factor. Lab testing was needed to rule out other possible causes.
Lab reports confirmed subcutaneous hemorrhages, internal organ rupture and broken bones in all birds. Additional tests for organophosphate and carbamate insecticides were negative, and none of the birds tested positive for Avian influenza, Newcastle disease, Eastern or Western equine encephalitis or West Nile virus.  
LDWF staff evaluations point to a combination of strong winds from a rapidly moving cold front and disturbance from either vehicular or train traffic that flushed the birds out of the roost trees located across LA Hwy. 1, near two converging power lines. The birds’ apparent flight through those lines resulted in collisions with the power lines and subsequent mortalities. Nearly all of the dead birds were found beneath the wires.
For more information, please contact Bo Boehringer, 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.