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Avian welfare
Mass mortality of starlings roosting by a roadside
  1. J. P. Duff
  1. AHVLA Diseases of Wildlife Scheme, AHVLA – Penrith, Merrythought, Cumbria CA11 9HS
  1. e-mail: paul.duff{at}

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IN recent winters mass deaths of flocking wild birds, popularly termed ‘aflockalypses’, usually caused by adverse weather or in-flight trauma, have made the news. With winter commencing, the time when passerine flocking and communal roosting usually occurs, it seems appropriate to mention a flock mass mortality incident in the UK, which caused some public concern and was potentially dangerous to drivers. This was investigated by the AHVLA Diseases of Wildlife Scheme, a national programme set up by Defra in 1998 to investigate disease and mortality in wildlife.

In the incident, in February 2011, 88 starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were submitted from a busy trunk road …

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