Birds usually fly through the air, right? Not always. There have been many occasions
when thousands of birds in mid-flight fall to the earth - dead. The largest such
incidence ever recorded happened at Warner Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Georgia
(USA) in October, 1954. Roughly 50,000 birds spanning fifty-three species plummeted onto
the runways. On August 18, 1961, thousands of sooty shearwaters fell along the coast
of California, from Pleasure Point to Rio Del Mar.
Some of these birds have been killed by lethal thunderclouds, carried by powerful winds
to high altitudes where they are hit by heavy turbulence and cannot breathe effectively.
This was the case in 1978 when a group of pink-footed geese were caught in an updraft
over Norfolk, England, and then fell from the sky in a line stretching twenty-eight
miles long. Other mid-air birds have been struck by lightning. Some have had their
wings iced over, a scenario occurring with mallards over Stuttgart, Arkansas (USA)
in November, 1973. The ducks were unable to escape a hailstorm, and were frozen solid
by the time they landed on the ground.