28 grey heron chicks were found dead Wednesday at a breeding colony in the old cemetery in Leeuwarden, in mysterious circumstances.
Images showing bodies of the dead birds were posted by Leeuwarden’s bird shelter, but wildlife experts are not sure what caused the demise of the young birds.
Jaap Tilkema, who has worked as a volunteer at the bird sanctuary for more than thirty years, say he has never seen so many dead birds in his life. “This year, the number of dead grey herons was many times higher than in previous years,” Tilkema was quoted by the Leeuwarder Courant. “It’s normal for some baby birds not to survive, but this is extreme.”
Grey herons have adapted to life in cities where habitats and nesting space are available. In northern Netherlands, it has established itself in great numbers in some urban environments. In cities such as Assen, Emmen, Groningen and Leeuwarden, they are a constant presence in certain areas, especially near ponds and waterways.
Another serious die off of birds happened in Helperzoom, just outside Groningen, earlier this year. A massive tree toppled over in the village, killing at least 87 crows that were nesting there. The fall was caused by the high winds that were battering the Netherlands in February. Groningen’s animal ambulance responded to a call from a member of the public, who had witnessed the incident, and began rescuing the birds that survived the fall.