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No. 121: Jan-Feb 1999

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Starlings Fall Out Of The Sky

Late October, 1998. Tacoma, Washington. About 300 starlings dropped out of the sky on this date. Neither poison nor disease was the cause. The birds all suffered crunched chests and blood clots in hearts and lungs. Since starlings fly in tight formations, some speculated they had smashed into the side of a large truck (?), or perhaps a wind gust had thrown them to earth violently.

(Anonymous; "Bird Deaths Still Mystery," Houston Chronicle, October 31, 1998. Cr. D. Phelps. Also: Anonymous; "300 Starlings Drop out of Sky Dead," Scranton Times, October 31, 1998. Cr. M. Piechota.)

Comment. A much greater avian catastrophe took place near Worthington, Minnesota, March 13-14, 1904. After a storm, dead and dying Lapland Longspurs were strewn over a wide area. A scientist from the Minnesota Natural History Survey marked off squares in the snow covering two frozen lakes and began counting and counting and counting. On the lakes alone, 750,000 Lapland Longspurs lay dead. It was estimated that 1,500,000 died just in the area around Worthington. The injuries of the longspurs were much like those suffered by the starlings. (Details in our latest catalog: Biological Anomalies: Birds)

From Science Frontiers #121, JAN-FEB 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987