Sad as it is, it seems that mysterious deaths are for the birds.

In one week or so, thousands of birds have fell from the sky in Australia, 40 starlings were found dead along Highway 287 in Boulder County, and more than 60 of the feathered creatures littered the streets of downtown Austin.

In each instance, officials were unable to determine what caused the deaths, but they maintain that there is no connection between the events. According to Mike Fitzgerald of the Western Australia Department of Environment:

I think it's a coincidence that the bird species that have died in Esperance have principally been insectivorous and nectivorous species, whereas the species in the United States have been, I believe, mainly grain-eating. The significant difference in their diet would sort of rule out the same cause.

Huh. It’s not bird flu, West Nile, or any other virus. No traces of toxins in the air, water, or land. And no people getting sick. We suspect that humans played a role—whether through environmental pollution or more direct means (perhaps a disgruntled local took matters—and a little poison—into his own hands).

We’d hate to see another unexplained phenomenon, like the maple syrup-esque smell that invaded New York City in 2005, Morgellons disease, or socks disappearing in the dryer.

Story by Alisa Opar. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in January 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007