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A video of a flock of birds crashing into the ground in Mexico, a phenomenon that shook the internet last week is a naturally occurring instinct in the species, experts say.
Dozens of dead birds were discovered in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua on Feb. 7 and a security camera recorded the incident.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Security footage shows a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds drop dead in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua pic.twitter.com/mR4Zhh979K
An ecologist said the incident was likely caused by a predator and the birds’ instinctive defensive response, known as a murmuration, the Guardian reported.
“This looks like a raptor, like a peregrine or hawk, has been chasing a flock, like they do with murmurating starlings, and they have crashed as the flock was forced low,” said Dr. Richard Broughton, an ecologist with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Guardian reported.
As the birds begin to flee from the predator, which is not visible in the video, each reacts to the movements of the birds around it.
“You can see that they act like a wave at the beginning, as if they are being flushed from above,” he added, according to the report.
Dr. Alexander Lees, a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, agreed, saying the birds can react so forcefully that they die upon impacting a solid object.
“For my part and from one video and no toxicology, I’d still say the most probable cause is the flock murmurating to avoid a predatory raptor and hitting the ground,” said Lees, the Guardian reported.
“There always seems to be a kneejerk response to blame environmental pollutants, but collisions with infrastructure are very common. In a tightly packed flock, the birds are following the movements of the bird in front rather than actually interpreting their wider surroundings, so it isn’t unexpected that such events happen occasionally,” he added, according to the report.
In an unrelated incident across the Atlantic Ocean, in Wales, 200 birds were found dead in another bizarre instance that has baffled people online.
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