Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Mystery of 75 starlings falling from the sky

Starlings on driveway at Coxley
It is possible the starlings were trying to flee a predator

The deaths of 75 starlings which appeared to fall from the sky and crash land on to a driveway in Somerset has mystified the RSPCA animal charity.

The birds were spotted falling onto the entrance of a house in Coxley in Somerset on Sunday 7 March.

Animal welfare officer Alison Sparkes, who was called by police, said: "It was a remarkable sight, I've never seen anything like it."

There is no evidence the birds were ill or poisoned before they hit the ground.

Predator theory

Ms Sparkes said: "Onlookers said they heard a whooshing sound and then the birds just hit the ground.

"They had fallen on to the ground in quite a small area, about 12ft (3.6m) in diameter.

"They appeared to be in good condition other than injuries that they appear to have suffered when they hit they ground.

"Our best guess is that this happened because the starlings were trying to escape a predator such as a sparrow hawk and ended up crash landing."

She said that the birds had suffered broken beaks, broken legs and wings and abdominal injuries.

Five of the birds survived the fall but had to be put down because of their severe injuries.

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