“A third was still moving its wings, the remaining birds were dead”: 120 starlings fall like stones from the sky in Thurgau

In Triboltingen, passersby recently found 120 starlings dead on a small area. According to investigations in Bern, it is clear that the birds have died of bleeding from the lungs and traumas. How it came about is much less clear. Even ornithologists are puzzled.

Starlings often fly in thousands in a large flock.

Photo: Keystone (Aventoft / Højer, Schleswig-Holstein, March 28, 2019)

Like a sudden shower of hail. Over 100 birds fall like stones from the sky on the last day of February in the Thurgau village of Triboltingen. They lie on the ground shortly after 4 p.m. on an area of ​​around 50 by 50 meters, most of them on the main road, some in the adjacent meadow. A macabre sight. An eyewitness says:

“A third was still moving its wings, the rest of the birds were dead.”

Several drivers immediately stop, set up breakdown triangles and alert the police.

Roman Kistler, head of the Thurgau hunting and fishing administration.

Roman Kistler, head of the Thurgau hunting and fishing administration.

Image: Reto Martin

It is not a crime. Therefore, the Thurgau cantonal police report the incident to the responsible hunting and fishing administration in Frauenfeld. An employee of the head of department Roman Kistler sets off for Lake Constance. Kistler says:

“He gathered around 120 dead starlings.”

He only knows of such incidents from hearsay. Because he does not know the cause of death, he hands over part of the migratory birds to the Center for Fish and Wildlife Medicine at the University of Bern. “The starlings have bleeding in the lungs and have suffered trauma,” says Marie-Pierre Ryser, head of the wildlife department.

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Starlings often fly in thousands in a large flock. Ryser cannot imagine that they will crash because of this. She does not know the exact circumstances about the mysterious death of the starlings. Nor does she know of a similar incident in Switzerland.

A starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

A starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

Image: Bazilfoto / iStockphoto

Mild weather and hardly dangerous buildings

Mysterious: A few days ago, a thousand dead birds fell from the sky on the other side of the large pond in the US state of Missouri. Experts are also puzzling and speculating about meteorological causes such as storms or lightning strikes.

Speculation continues to dominate after the fall in Triboltingen. Ryser speaks of a puzzle. For the Thurgau authorities, however, the matter with the results from Bern is over, because poisoning or illnesses as a cause of death are excluded for the starlings.

But why did the birds die? Neither topographic nor meteorological reasons speak for bird extinction. Ornithologists do not call the slopes falling from the 721-meter-high ridge to the Untersee, covered with Müller-Thurgau or Pinot-gris vines, as a bird trap. In addition, the Thurgau has a mild climate with a slightly cloudy sky on the afternoon. Roger Perret from MeteoNews says:

“It was spring like with temperatures around 10 degrees.”

Only in the evening should strong wind with gusts of 75 km / h refresh. That could not be a reason for bird extinction, says Perret. “When the wind is strong, the birds move away,” he says.

Livio Rey, employee at the bird observatory in Sempach.

Livio Rey, employee at the bird observatory in Sempach.

Picture: PD

Livio Rey from the Sempach Ornithological Institute knows more about birds, although he is surprised by the extent in Triboltingen. “There are already a lot of 120 starlings,” he says. You could have collided with a large building with glass panes.

In the immediate vicinity there are only a renovated apartment building, a dilapidated house and a garage. Large and tall buildings are nowhere in sight, and there are no wind turbines in Thurgau. Another cause of death for Rey is a collision with a truck.

Wild speculation about 5G technology

Between January and April, starlings migrate north from the warmer climes. Most of them fly near the ground up to about 1200 meters. This contradicts the rumor that the starlings collided with an airplane. In addition, shortly before the mysterious hail of birds, the digital flight radar only performs a few flight movements in the immediate vicinity of Triboltingen. At 3:59 p.m., according to Flight Radar 24, only an Airbus A330-200 from Turkish Airlines from Istanbul landed directly at Zurich Airport on the approach to the Untersee – at an altitude of around 3.3 kilometers.

There remains the question of the influence of the new 5G mobile technology. Because operators in Switzerland are currently rushing to upgrade their systems with the new standards. While the federal government is delaying the extensive use of 5G and clarifying the risks to people and the environment, residents everywhere are fighting back against 5G.

A video from The Hague provided additional explosives in 2018, according to which hundreds of birds had fallen from the sky during a 5G test. After the pan-European outcry, however, the Dutch authorities gave the all-clear that a 5G test had not taken place there. The ornithologists at the Sempach Ornithological Center have been monitoring bird populations across the country for over 30 years. Livio Rey says:

“However, we find no evidence that radiation affects entire bird species.”

In the mysterious case of Triboltingen, he speaks of an enigmatic event. And Roman Kistler says: “The whole life is a mystery.”

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