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Audubon Society of Portland Statement on Crow Deaths in NE Portland

On the afternoon of January 31, 2018, Portland Audubon began receiving reports of dead and dying crows in NE Portland in the vicinity of Martin Luther King Blvd and NE Jessup Street. Witnesses observed crows "falling from the sky" as a large flock of crows flew west through the area. Witnesses also observed both dead and dying crows experiencing severe seizures on the ground.

Audubon Society of Portland Statement on Crow Deaths in NE Portland

Photo by Linda Tanner

February 6, 2018 Crow Update

Approximately 20 crows that have died under suspicious circumstances have been collected from NE Portland (in the vicinity of MLK and NE Jessup) and transferred to a lab for testing. This die-off event appears to have run its course and reports of dead crows in this area have diminished substantially in the last couple days. An additional 6 crows that also died under suspicious circumstances have been collected from the Portland Park Blocks near PSU on 2-5-18 and will be tested. Portland Audubon wants to emphasize that until lab results are obtained, the cause of death cannot be conclusively determined. It may take up to two weeks to obtain lab results. 

Portland Audubon has received a tremendous outpouring of concern from the community regarding the welfare of our local crow populations.

For more information please contact Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director, 503 380-9728

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On the afternoon of January 30, 2018, Portland Audubon began receiving reports of dead and dying crows in NE Portland in the vicinity of Martin Luther King Blvd and NE Jessup Street. Witnesses observed crows "falling from the sky" as a large flock of crows flew west through the area. Witnesses also observed both dead and dying crows experiencing severe seizures on the ground. 

Both Portland Audubon and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have responded to this situation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also directly involved. At least 10 dead crows spanning a multi-block radius have now been collected. An additional dead crow was found in downtown Portland in the Park Blocks. The crows will undergo testing to determine the cause of death. Based on external examination of the dead crows, they appeared to have been in good physical condition in terms of body mass, feather condition, and absence of obvious disease or injury. 

While it cannot be confirmed until the birds have been tested, the deaths are consistent with some sort intentional or unintentional exposure to toxic substances. 

Portland Audubon advises community members who find dead or dying crows to contact Portland Audubon at 503-292-0304 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.. Portland Audubon will send volunteers to collect dead or sick crows. We advise the public to NOT handle dead or sick crows. If this is a poisoning event, there is potentially a risk to both pets and wildlife that might scavenge the crows as well as to humans that may handle the crows. Dead crows will be tested. 

Portland Audubon is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information that leads to identifying the cause of this crow mortality event. Members of the public with information regarding the crow die-off can also report this information at 503 292-0304.

Crows nest throughout Portland. At this time of year they congregate in very large numbers to roost at night. It is not uncommon to see a roost of several hundred to several thousand crows in various locations throughout the city. During the daytime, the crow roosts disperse out across the landscape. Joining large communal roosts is a survival strategy for crows; there is safety in number from predators, it provides warmth on cold nights, and the roosts serve as information exchange centers where crows learn from one another about potential food sources.

Crows are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Illegal killing of crows can result in significant penalties including both fines and prison sentences. 

Media Contact:
Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director (503) 380-9728

Crow by Heath Parsons
Photo by Heath Parsons
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