From Iceland — Disease Likely Explanation For Mysterious Bird Deaths

Disease Likely Explanation For Mysterious Bird Deaths

Published June 17, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Boaworm/Wikimedia Commons

The sudden and inexplicable deaths of dozens of birds is probably linked to a disease, says an Icelandic ornithologist.

“Everything points to a disease or some other contagion at work when many adult birds die within a short period of time,” said Gunnar Þór Hallgrímsson, an ornithologist and the director of the Southwest Iceland Nature Research Institute, to Vísir.

Gunnar points out that in other countries, mass bird deaths are more common, and are usually the result of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, better known as the organism which causes botulism.

“There is no reason to rule out this possibility, even though [botulism] is not know to be present in Iceland,” he said, cautioning that further investigations would be needed to get to the bottom of the case.

As reported, close to 100 dead birds – most of them eiders, kittiwakes and cormorants – have been found dead near a nesting area in Fróðárrif, located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in west Iceland. Samples of the birds will be sent to the US for further analysis, but for now, the cause of the die-off remains a mystery.

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