Nature likely the culprit in El Reno bird “die offs”

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EL RENO, Okla. - Concern grows in El Reno over reports of wild birds dying by the dozens.

However, wildlife officials said the "die offs" are in fact natural.

Logan Savory makes his living on the road.

By day, he's a delivery driver and, by night, he's training to be a police officer - with his trained eye spotting something foul in El Reno.

"I stepped on something and, when I looked down, I saw it was a dead bird," he said. "Throughout the day, I kept seeing more and more dead birds."

On seemingly every block, he'd find dead grackles and starlings - their numbers growing by the block.

"I looked over this hill, and there was like 15, maybe 16 dead birds all under the same tree," Savory said.

NewsChannel 4 checked with the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Officials said the sightings are an indicator of what's to come.

"This time of year, it's very common for black birds, grackles, cow birds and starlings to gather together to mix species and roost at night," said Wildlife Diversity Biologist Mark Howery.

Roosting high above in parking lot trees, the birds are skilled in making a mess and spreading disease.

"You have a perfect set up for disease transmission," Howery said. "I've seen die offs in the neighborhood of 150 birds, but it's a small part of a large roost."

Howery said the silent killer is most likely salmonella.

In the large flocks, it's survival of the fittest, where the weak and young die by the dozens.

"It's both natural and it is concerning, because we're not used to seeing birds in that number," Howery said.

These sightings are concerning, but officials said the birds don't pose a threat to humans, so long as they're disposed of correctly.

Howery urges anyone who wishes to remove dead birds from their property to not touch the birds directly - instead, picking them up using a plastic bag or gloves.

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