Skip to comments.Drivers avoid geese falling from the sky
Posted on 03/08/2009 7:17:18 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
BALD EAGLE Last Friday morning, many commuters on their way to State College observed a strange event.
During the thundershower on Feb. 27, some unseen force knocked a flock of Canada geese from the air near the Bald Eagle exit of Interstate 99 in Blair County.
Richard Bishop of Tyrone witnessed the last few geese fall.
I was just coming under the underpass after exiting from I-99, Bishop said. We were on our way to Ohio when I saw this blur of something dropping from the sky. When we got closer, there were dead geese all over the road in front of us. They were scattered over about 150 yards near where Route 350 breaks off to head to Warriors Mark. None of the geese was moving.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Charles Wilt happened by at about the same time and moved the dead geese to the side of the road.
A couple of birds appeared to have been run over by cars after they fell, but most of them didnt show any outward damage, Trooper Wilt reported. I thought that maybe they had been struck by lightning. Trooper Wilt observed no live geese. Advertisement
Lion Country Supply manager Randy Carlson and employee Phil Allison, of Alexandria, also investigated the strange event. On his way to work, Allison had been driving through that area at about the same time as Bishop. Allison reported that he came upon the geese just a minute or two after a loud clap of thunder.
The geese were all over the road and also along the edges and even back in the woods, Carlson said. It just seemed that they dropped from the sky stone dead. Maybe they were struck by lightning.
Pennsylvania Game Commission officer Steve Hanczar investigated the incident and collected nine geese for examination at the Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Penn State University.
According to Terry Clevenger, dispatcher in the Southcentral Office of the PGC, a total of 56 geese were involved, but counts by Carlson and others put the number at 44.
A necropsy was performed at PSU on the geese, and they all had crushed breastbones and trachea, with no sign of electrocution, Clevenger said. Although they are continuing the investigation, the most likely explanation is that they were thrown to the ground by a severe downdraft during the storm.
Game Commission veterinarian Dr. Walter Cottrell agreed with the assessment of damage, but hedged on the possible cause. The geese all had quite severe trauma to their undersides, including massive bruising and crushed breastbones. It is no doubt that they died from hitting the pavement or ground, and the force involved was more than just a bad landing. The avian pathologist who examined the geese detected no burns or lesions that might typically result from lightning.
It must have been a quick but painful death, Cottrell said in a phone interview. It might have been a combination of poor visibility, wind, and disoriented geese.
Penn State professor of Wildlife Resources Margaret Brittingham fielded several reports from friends who suspected lightning when they saw all the dead geese shortly after the storm. Brittingham questioned whether geese could even be electrocuted in mid-air. Cottrell declined to comment as to whether birds could be killed in mid-air by lightning.
Whether the incident was caused by downdraft, lightning, or a combination of factors, all agreed that this was a very unusual event. The PGC gathered up the remainder of the geese on March 3. The investigation was still continuing at the time of this writing.
I’d hate to have one of those hit my windshield...
As a “WKRP in Cincinnati” fan, all I can think of is, “God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
Coulda been the Navy testing their sonar. Oh wait thats whales.
Sully gets payback?
Oh the Humanity!!!!
Hail! I wonder what happened?
Awww, poor geese.
Wasn’t that about the same time 0bama was flying to Ohio to brag about the 25 new police jobs he created? Maybe Air Force One has some kind of goose death ray to protect itself from bird strikes?
Yeah, I had WKRP flashbacks reading this too.
Windshear. It has dropped airliners like rocks before. Too bad, geese don't have the new doppler radar to warn them.
Does anyone know where pilot “Sully” Sullenberger was at the time?
Reminds me of a story from a radar class. The teacher told about when birds would land on an antenna some of the operators would turn on the radar frying the birds. They would fall down to the deck where other crew men would kick them overboard. Then the officers would come out and yell at everyone involved.
What State is this? Please put in subject line, THX!
Not necessarily lightening per se, but perhaps the geese were in precisely the right spot for the intense resultant concussion of the thunder clap to stun them.
There would not be any evidence I would think. The disoriented, or knocked out birds would fall, and their bodies would be crushed by the impact of hitting the ground.
A little speculation on my part.
"Porter says that the most spectacular birding events happen during what is called fall out conditions. Waiting for a good tail wind, the birds begin their migration from the Yucatan Peninsula around dusk and fly for 600 miles before arriving along the coast the next afternoon, he said. If the weather is right some of the birds may fly as far as Montgomery or Birmingham before stopping to rest. But, if the weather changes in flight and they fly into a head wind or cold front, the exhausted birds literally fall out of the sky by the hundreds onto Dauphin Island.
Hummingbirds will fly for 26 hours to cross the Gulf Of Mexico to come here too.
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