[Tweeters] FW: robin behavior/poisoning question

Brett Wolfe m_lincolnii at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 21 07:04:40 PST 2006

See, I guess that is where those of us who are scientists, or budding scientists, stop thinking like birders and start thinking about science. I would have been all over two situations - contacting the local health authorities, and letting the nearest natural history museum know about it. The local health authority should know about this, in case it is a bigger problem. And if this was in Seattle, I'd place a call to the Burke Museum so they could maybe come and collect any already dead birds. Tissue samples would need to be taken to discover what the problem was, and the museum can always use new skin samples for specimens.

Fascinating as it is to see something morbid like that happening, I would have definitely taken it to the next level, so something could actually be done. Just posting to tweeters isn't going to help those robins, but taking additional steps to have someone actually help you discover the problem would be the next important step. It could also help additional birds from being poisoned and dying. Hopefully, you can do so and maybe save some other creatures from suffering a similar fate..

Brett A. Wolfe
Seattle, WA
m_lincolnii at yahoo.com

Bill and Nancy LaFramboise <billnanl at verizon.net> wrote:
A student at Eastern in Cheney encountered this flock of affected robins -
any thoughts? Does de-icer poison birds? I considered fermented berries
and "drunken" behavior but would fermented berries kill?


Bill and Nancy LaFramboise
Richland WA

-----Original Message-----

As I was leaving the other day, I noticed that all the robins nearby were
acting very strangely. They were shaking their heads much like a human
shakes their head to get water out of their ears and they were very
off-balanced. I thought at first they had a broken wing or leg, but it would
be odd that all of them suffered the same injury. As I watched more closely,
I realized they couldn't walk or fly straight or even regain some sort of
balance. It was very sad to see. I tried to at least get them out of the
road by following them as they wobbled until they were in somebody's lawn.
When they tried to fly, they couldn't get higher than me before they flipped
over or crashed into the ground.

Also, there were a few robins who sat in the tree above me looking very
lethargic. I got so close to one of them that I could have touched him. I
was less than three inches away. And he never moved, never got scared, never
flew or anything. I thought this was all very weird. Then I found a dead
robin nearby. He wasn't squished or bleeding and there was no evidence of a
bullet hole or him being hit by a car. He looked perfectly intact. I
suspected that the robins were being poisoned somehow but as far as I know,
no one around there uses pesticides. But it was weird that all of them were
acting that way, plus I had found a dead one not too far away.

The curious thing was that there was heaps of de-icer all over the road.
We've had pretty bad weather lately, and ice is everywhere. It makes sense
that the landlord would want to make the roads outside his apartments less
slippery. The de-icer is in pellet form and is seriously everywhere. It's
clear that he used too much, as most of the ice is gone and there's still
huge piles of it on the road. (Ironically, I slip on that more than the ice
itself) I was wondering if maybe this was causing the poisoning? Or do you
think the robins were poisoned at all? I did look for spots of antifreeze
around the cars, but I found nothing.

I don't know the ingredients. I'm considering calling the landlord just to
find out. He's very passionate about animals and I know he'd feel horrible
if his de-icer was causing robins to drop dead.

If you have an idea of what's going on, I'd love to know. I'd really like to
help the robins out. If you think Tweeters would have more information or
may have an idea also, go ahead and post an inquiry to them. I've told you
everything I know. This just happened this morning, but I wanted to get
information as soon as possible. I happened to run into somebody while I was
studying the dead robin, and he said that he had noticed the same thing -
that all the robins in that area were acting really funny. The really
interesting thing is that when I crossed the road to the parking lot of my
dorms, all the robins were normal. And there was no de-icer on the ground.

Thanks so much!!!


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