How do you know you’re experiencing an especially severe
thunderstorm? When waterfowl by the dozens begin falling to the
ground – dead!
Some furious thunderstorms that rattled through mid-Texas
resulted in heavy downpours, some severe lightning, power
failures–and more than two dozen dead ducks raining down on Martha
Hughes’ roof and surrounding property.
When the fierce thunderstorm subsided in Decatur, a community
located northwest of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Hughes
discovered 26 dead mergansers on her roof, yard and driveway,
according to the Wise County Messenger newspaper.
Hughes surmised that the small red-headed ducks were all flying
together when a single lightning bolt struck them, the same strike
that caused a fireball when it hit a nearby electrical
Jeremy Meador, a Decatur animal control officer who responded to
the scene, said the ducks were indeed, uh, extra crispy.
“They looked like they were charred, burned,” he said.
Hughes told the local newspaper that some local bird lovers also
discovered the roasted ducks.
Neighborhood cats apparently hauled away several of the 26 roasted
fowl prior to animal control’s arrival on the scene.
No one seems to know exactly what force–or combination of
forces–caused dozens of Canada geese to fall from the sky during a
severe thunderstorm in central Pennsylvania. But everyone seems to
have a theory.
Under the circumstances, most folks initially speculated that
lightning killed an estimated 56 wild geese found on a highway near
State College, Pa. following a severe thunderstorm.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Charles Wilt came upon the scene
near the Bald Eagle exit of Interstate 99 in Blair County just
moments after it occurred.
“A couple of birds appeared to have been run over by cars after
they fell, but most of them didn’t show any outward damage,”
Trooper Wilt told the Centre Daily Times. “I thought that
maybe they had been struck by lightning.”
Trooper Wilt said all the geese he observed were dead.
However, on further examination, none of the nine geese tested at
the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State University showed
signs of lightning strikes.
“A necropsy was performed at PSU on the geese, and they all had
crushed breastbones and trachea, with no sign of electrocution,”
said Terry Clevenger, dispatcher in the Southcentral Office of the
Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“The most likely explanation is that they were thrown to the ground
by a severe downdraft during the storm.”
Game Commission veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell agreed with the
assessment of damage, but hedged on the possible cause.
“The geese all had quite severe trauma to their undersides,
including massive bruising and crushed breastbones,” Cottrell said.
“It is no doubt that they died from hitting the pavement or ground,
and the force involved was more than just a bad landing.”
Bad landing? That brings up yet another possible explanation that
no one has mentioned.
Maybe their wings iced up.