Dear PoPville – Have others noticed lots of Dead Birds?

by Prince Of Petworth July 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm 37 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

“Dear PoPville,

I keep seeing dead birds on the street. Not chickens or roosters, but regular birds. I live on Ogden and I see the dead birds on Center, Oak, and Hertford while I’m walking my dog. I keep wondering, is somebody with a bb gun shooting birds? Do they eat rat poison and fall out of the sky dead? Victims of low rainfall and high heat?”

Anyone else noticing an increase in dead birds around town? Any guesses as to the cause?

  • I haven’t noticed any increase in dead birds, and I do keep an eye out for them while I’m photographing them. What species of birds is the original writer seeing?

  • ForTheShorties

    I’ve noticed some increased bird activity at street level – mostly from fledglings and then parents fussing over them/protecting them. Perhaps this is causing the OP to see more dead birds as they get run over by cars/attacked by dogs/ingest something poisonous on the ground?

    I know my dog has taken a keen interest in the fledgling birds – chasing them out of bushes and into less secure areas.

  • Collin

    Actually, I have noticed a bit more dead birds (mostly in the road). Based on the timing I assumed it was due to the heat.

    • Angry Parakeet

      I bike ride through about 6 miles of Rock Creek Park getting to work and the day after the heat hit I saw (whole) dead birds. If you watch any bird now you will see they are panting with beaks wide open.

  • CornholioDC

    2 of them on the 1100 Block of Euclid. I had not seen them elsewhere. Thanks for that link, Mr T. West Nile was my initial thought and this confirms it.

    • LaurenMcK

      I’ve seen 3 on the 1100 block of Euclid and was just thinking that I should report them to…someone? Does POPville count?

  • iwill

    Actually I’ve noticed less. When I worked near 7th and Penn I’d get off at metro center. On my walk, especially in the summer I’d see large parts of birds. I don’t mean to be morbid, but it seems those birds got into a fight with an industrial fan and lost.

    It sounds like the OP is talking about whole birds who just happen to be dead. Could be be someone else is walking a dog with a strong hunting instinct who is retrieving all these animals.

    • CornholioDC

      They are whole birds. I actually almost ran one over running errands one day. It was clearly disoriented and could not get off the ground, but did not appear to have a broken wing or any other visible injury.

      Next AM I was walking my dogs and there it was, dead as a door nail.

      • Another guy named Chris

        Yeah I saw a bird in this condition a few weeks back. I told the bird, “Hey bird, you better fly away before nightfall or the alley cats and rats will make quick work of you!”

        Sadly, he didn’t heed my warning and all that was left the next morning was bloody feathers and wasted opportunities.

      • Irving Green

        That’s pretty hard core for the bird to be running errands in that state. If I were that disoriented and immobilized, I think I’d just take it easy at home and run to the store another time.

    • Angry Parakeet

      7th and Penn area has a lot of hawks and they leave large remnants of prey (mostly pigeons)if they can’t carry the whole thing. Oddest observation: the lobate foot of a mud hen on an eighth floor roof in Chinablock.

  • Veronika

    “Any guesses as to the cause?”


    • anon

      Karl Rove!

    • Another guy named Chris

      This right here killed me dead.

  • Molly

    Funny, I’ve noticed lots of dead birds, except they have been chickens and roosters.

    • Irving Green

      yeah, ditto, but obviously not noteworthy.

  • cre

    There’ve been more dead birds than usual in Ward 4. It’s been the topic of a thread on the Takoma email list, though nobody knows what’s wrong.

  • jm

    answers to the posed questions:

    yes, I definitely have in a lot of different areas. imminent zombie apocolypse.

  • CHSC

    Light pollution can often be a problem too, though wouldn’t necessarily account for an uptick in death in such a short period of time (if it were migration related, an in increase like this would happen with more regularity I guess).

  • baby wants eggs

    we had one in our front yard the other day. it looked dead (flies around it, etc) but when we tried to move it, it was still alive. so sad. we assumed a cat had gotten to it. animal control came to pick it up but we were already at work, so i don’t know if they had thoughts about what happened.

  • Albert

    Uh-oh, I think I saw Tippi Hedren at DCUSA over the weekend–not sure this is going to end well.

  • Andy(2)

    I’ve noticed a few as have friends (before heat). My friend called the City of Arlington to report it – and asked if there was a mechanism to track in case it was serious (birdflu..) they said nope.

  • Lisa

    I commented to a friend about this last week. Noticed several a couple of weeks ago. Whole birds as well. First a crow by the water treatment facility in Shaw, then a blue jay in Cap Hill. I’m sure there was a sparrow somewhere along the way.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen a few more than usual as well. Sparrow/Robin types mostly. And a parakeet on 13th and Kenyon.

  • PG

    The title of this post reminds me of the Morty the Mime scene from Spinal Tap. “Do the dead bird…don’t talk back, mime is money!”

  • wobber

    Yes, I found a dead crow on my front steps just over a week ago. I then found a dead squirrel close by just days later. West Nile virus sounds like a reasonable explanation since the mosquitos have been pretty thick lately. I’ve also notices other dead birds on my block.

  • Jack Momma

    I found a bag of blue stones in my yard the other day, pretty obvious that DC left it there, They’re lucky my dog didn’t eat it. I think its a result of rat baiting the city has been doing, it flows into water etc…

    • Anon

      huh? you think the rat baiting is going into the water and killing birds?

  • wobber

    On the CDC website re: West Nile Virus:

    If you find a dead bird: Don’t handle the body with your bare hands. Contact your local health department for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body. They may tell you to dispose of the bird after they log your report.


    • textdoc

      It looks like the D.C. government’s Animal Disease Prevention Division is responsible for dealing with West Nile (in mosquitoes, birds, etc.).

      The page http://hrla.doh.dc.gov/hrla/cwp/view,A,1384,Q,572064,hrlaNav,|33257|.asp lists addresses and hours for their administrative office (but no phone number — huh??) and for their animal control facility:

      Administrative Office
      899 North Capitol Street, NE
      Second Floor
      Washington, DC 20002
      Office Hours: 8:15 am-4:45 pm
      Service Hours: 9 am – 4 pm

      Animal Control Facility
      1201 New York Avenue, NE
      Washington DC 20002
      (202) 576-6664
      24 hours/day

  • OP

    Hi from the original poster – yes, these are whole birds. They don’t look maimed at all. I don’t know what kind of bird, but the brownish colored ones you see flying around. Not crows. But, for some reason, I feel like if we called the health department to report dead birds, they would laugh at us!

  • SF

    Found a dead one in our backyard two days ago. I don’t know anything about birds. It was small.

  • andy


  • Jay’O

    This is the end of the breeding season, so lots of young, inexperienced birds are learning what the phrase “survial of the fittest means”!

  • mike

    Yes and while we’re on the topic of dead things it’s looking like people are not watering the young trees around Logan. I’ve been noticing a lot of very stressed trees, it would be cool if everyone would just throw some water on their friendly neighborhood tree in the morning so we don’t find ourselves in a city of dead trees full of dead birds.

  • Rosie

    I’ve seen pigeon looking birds lying dead on the sidewalk or side of the street before in CH, and always thought it was strange. They never looked hurt or anything either, like they just dropped dead. But it’s been a while since I’ve spotted one.


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