Last week, a security camera in Mexico recorded bizarre and unsettling video that has since gone viral. In the most recent instance of a mass bird die-off, a massive flock of yellow-throated blackbirds was photographed crashing to the earth in Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, in western Chihuahua. While many people bounce back fast, others don’t seem to be as fortunate. People have questioned if the footage is authentic.
You can view the incident below, but be advised that video contains material that some people may find upsetting.
The video was recorded on a security camera on February 7 and publicized by regional media before being verified as authentic by the Snopes fact-checking website. The field of dead birds, which local media site El Heraldo de Chihuahua characterized as having “hundreds,” was then seen in other footage while it was being traversed. They may have been moving down from Canada.
While it is reasonable that some people might think the video is phony, instances of huge flocks of birds dropping out of the sky unexpectedly are not all that often, despite being incredibly strange to see.
What causes it, exactly? Although the verdict isn’t in yet, the most likely theory is that the closely clustered flock was responding to a predator. Larger birds of prey hunt on smaller birds like blackbirds, and the sight of one of these predators will send the flock into a frenzy. The unfortunate few that land on the bottom will slam into the ground, frequently killing them quickly, as the entire group dives toward the ground.
According to Dr. Richard Broughton, an ecologist, “This appears to be a raptor-like peregrine or hawk following a flock, as they do with murmurating starlings, and they have crashed as the flock was forced low.”
They start off acting like a wave, as if they are being flushed from above, as you can see.