When Kevin Beech hopped in his car and drove down to Tsawwassen, he wasn’t expecting to see a scene straight from a horror movie.
He was on his way to visit friends at a community near the BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen terminal Friday night when he spotted dozens of birds just falling from the sky.
“All of a sudden I see something just out of the corner of my eye that’s hitting the ground and I just say ‘what the hell was that,’” Beech told Black Press Media by phone Thursday.
“There’s all these poor little guys dead all over the ground.”
A couple of the birds were still walking around and twitching, Beech said.
“It was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie – like Birds. It was crazy,” he said.
“It was horrible. You could see the poor little guys just dove into the ground. They had little pools of blood around their heads. It was freaking horrible”
After realizing there was nothing he could do, Beech and his friend drove off – but not before snapping a quick photo. When he came back 10 minutes later, they were gone.
“In 10-15 minutes they were all gone… that was almost creepy in a way.”
But although birds falling for the sky is unnerving, their quick pickup wasn’t.
Rob Hope, the raptor care manager at Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, said they sent a volunteer to pick up the birds.
“Our volunteer found 42 birds,” Hope said. The birds were European starlings, a common species for the region.
Hope sent the birds off to be autopsied by the Canadian Wildlife Service, an arm of Environment Canada. Results are expected in the coming weeks but for now, Hope said he could only speculate on what made the birds fall out of the sky.
“It could be stress, starvation, some sort of toxin… it’s a wait-and-see game until the testing is done,” said Hope.
“They were all in good body condition,” with no clues as to what happened to make the birds drop.
Birds spontaneously dying mid-flight is incredibly rare, he said, noting that he’s only heard of a few cases in the world.
“Not personally and not in my life time.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Tsawwassen First Nation lands as a reservation. It is not, as they have signed a treaty and became self-governing in 2009.