Why are there constantly dead pigeons on one particular street in my city?
July 21, 2011 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Why are there constantly dead pigeons on one particular street in my city?

I work in White Plains, NY, and there is one street -- actually, just one 100ft section of a street -- where there is almost always one dead pigeon on the sidewalk. This has been going on for months, so I'm pretty sure it's not just the same pigeon.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's noticed this, as there's a foursquare place for it called "Dead Bird Alley": https://foursquare.com/venue/20302678 (though the poster marked it a few blocks away from the spot I usually see the birds)

Here is a satellite view of the area :
The poor little guys are always right around the area where is says "Sears Auto Center" (though the Auto Center is across the street at the mall). I checked street view, but I guess there wasn't an ex-bird there when Google came by.

The building closest to the bird spot is a Verizon building, but I don't know exactly what the building is for. Across the street is a shopping mall. Next to the Verizon building is a small park and parking lot where there typically are a decent amount of (live) birds, but I don't think these dead birds are just a natural side effect of that population, since the "death zone" is not in a radius around the park, but in a specific area of curb. Admittedly, I don't hunt the area for other dead birds, but I do walk through the area enough, and never notice the recently-deceased in other spots.

The cynic in me wants to say it's somehow related to the Verizon building, but it really could be anything.

Any theories?
posted by coondognd to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Sys Rq at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2011

My gut is that either there are issues with the windows and reflections or someone is trying to kill them.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:48 AM on July 21, 2011

I am going to be in WP tonight, so I will check out the area in question.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:49 AM on July 21, 2011

ditto poison. although the reflections idea and/or the bird slamming into an 'invisible' window sounds reasonable, too.
posted by easily confused at 11:50 AM on July 21, 2011

Might be Tom Lehrer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:52 AM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: JohnnyGunn, the current bird is on the edge of the curb, close to the street corner
posted by coondognd at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2011

Sears Auto Center? Antifreeze.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2011

Could it be a raccoon? I saw an article where raccoons were tagged with GPS devices and it was found that they tend to stay near the same intersections, especially if there is a good hiding spot.
posted by cranberrymonger at 12:03 PM on July 21, 2011

That part of White Plains is densely developed and heavily traveled, with many opportunities for rodents to live in parking garages, subbasements, etc. and subsist on food waste. Obvious evidence of rodent activity is incompatible with the operation of even a downscale shopping mall like the Galleria. At least some pigeon deaths in that area are probably attributable to indiscriminate use of anticoagulant rat poisons.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:13 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

A dead-eye kid with a BB gun living in the neighborhood?
posted by buggzzee23 at 12:14 PM on July 21, 2011

Predators, human or otherwise.
posted by tommasz at 1:08 PM on July 21, 2011

Do the buildings create any wind tunnel effect, or are there otherwise strong winds there? This weekend I saw two birds - in one afternoon - die from sudden trauma when they were thrown into buildings by the wind and subsequently dropped like the proverbial rock. The one was a typical pigeon, and the other a doggie-sized seagulll.
posted by whatzit at 1:33 PM on July 21, 2011

There is probably one building in that area that has absolutely no rat problem. In other words, liberal use of rat poison. Pigeons consume it, and then head in the direction they were going. Since pigeons all weigh more or less the same, they drop dead in more or less the same place in the trajectory, give or take half a block or so to take into account the amount ingested or body weight. Antifreeze from the auto center could have the same effect. They consume poison, fly away, and die shortly thereafter.
posted by juniperesque at 1:50 PM on July 21, 2011

I just came back from the location. I did not see any dead birds, but I assume they are cleaned up. I do not think it is anything to do with windows in this case. While the building across the street has mirrored windows and a lot of them, where these birds are falling would be a little too far to have hit those windows and then flown across the street and died. The Verizon building has some windows, but it is definitely not an office building in its entirety. Maybe there are some offices, but there is a definite lack of windows in a 6+ story building. I assume it is some sort of hub/switching station or technical building maybe housing servers (although it seems like expensive real estate for a server building).

When you stand on the corner near the McDonalds and DMV, there is an artificial chirping noise that I think alerts blind people to street crossing. At first, I thought it was a either a real chirping or some sort of electronic chirping put out by the verizon building to keep birds away. Maybe the sound confuses the pigeons and they fly into the huge cement walls of the VZ building?

But, having said all that, I am more inclined to think that there is some sort of poison, maybe on the large window ledges of the few windows of the VZ building that is intended either for the pigeons themselves or for rat poison.

If I have the time tomorrow, I will call the Verizon building and the building across the street and ask them if they know anything.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:42 PM on July 21, 2011

Are the birds whole or are they pigeon bits?

We used to have a similar thing near a high rise building I used to work in. Around the lobby there'd be bits of feathers, legs, heads, all kinds of bits of pigeon. Then one of my workmates called us all over to the window one day to watch a brown falcon on a ledge on level 30 tearing up a pigeon carcass. Beautiful, in a gory way.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:56 PM on July 21, 2011

Do you want to know why they're constantly dead as opposed to some dead/awake/dead pattern? Assuming they're adult pigeons, and there's no visible scarring (missing feathers, blood), I'd agree with the poison assessment. Likely some animal poison close to a mass nesting area.
posted by Metro Gnome at 6:44 PM on July 21, 2011

Did anyone ever find out an answer? I was in White Plains for the first time yesterday (a Friday), walking by the Verizon building and there were remains of about 5 pigeons strewn around the sidewalk. The first one was so striking, completely stripped of all flesh except for the head and wings, which were perfectly intact (minus the eyes), that we started to notice the rest. There 2 sets of complete undamaged wings further down the street with the joints exposed and stripped, and a less eaten bird but also with still intact wings around the corner. We hunted around, there was a tree across the street under which we noticed what looked like fairly massive bird droppings - could there be a falcon or eagle or other predatory bird doing this? I would think if it were rats they'd eat the wings and generally disrupt the skeleton. If it were poison then other animals wouldn't have eaten them. I mean, they looked almost like the body had been boiled or cooked, they were so devoid of flesh, but the wings were perfect. I'm a science journalism student, so of course would love to write a story about this mystery, if anyone has any ideas!
posted by madeleine82 at 8:04 AM on December 3, 2011

I called what I think was the Verizon building and got transferred several times and finally got someone who said they noticed them on their lunch break, but had no idea why. I have been to the DMV and the awesome chinese grocery across the way several times and while I always look at the situation trying to find clues, I never do. Maybe there is someone on this page who could answer, but I have not tried.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:42 PM on December 3, 2011

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