Migratory Mess: Confused Cranes Perish in German Fog
As winter turns to spring in Europe, migratory birds are criss-crossing the Continent, leaving their southern summer homes for breeding grounds in the north. But for one group of cranes passing through bad weather in central Germany, the trip turned deadly.
A flock of ill-fated migrating cranes flew to their deaths in central Germany over the weekend, after a number of the birds became disoriented in thick fog and flew into buildings and cars.
At least 20 birds were discovered dead, with authorities reportedly finding four on one road alone.
But a number of other cranes survived their collisions with broken wings or legs, and were brought to the nearby Mühlhausen Veterinary Clinic. Four others were brought to the care center at the Seebach Bird Conservation Observatory, where Dr. Rudolf Sienhold described two of the avian patients as "emaciated."
"One of them looks like he's healing up quite nicely," he said. "The others may have to stay with us for a while."
The thick fog the cranes encountered is likely to have thrown off their internal navigation systems, sending them into disarray.
Sienhold said he had never seen anything on the scale of the weekend's bird chaos. However, the phenomenon of lost birds is not completely unknown to Germany. In November 2011, more than 55 cranes and 300 geese landed on a highway in the eastern state of Brandenburg and were run over by cars.
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