Mysterious mass bird deaths in Hills

Mysterious mass bird deaths in Hillsboro
Several protected species of birds, including one bald eagle, dropped from the sky in north Hillsboro and their deaths are now a mystery.

Nearly two dozen birds were discovered in a field across from Lipman Lighting on Monday.

One of the men who found them says Oregon State Police picked the animals up earlier this week, but when FOX 12 visited the property Thursday, two additional dead birds were found.

There's no answer yet as to what's killing them.

"it's an adult. It doesn't have a white head until their fifth year, said Bob Sallinger, the Conservation Director at Audubon Society of Portland.

"In a situation where you see multiple species, especially birds like bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, blackbirds, all together having died very suddenly - with no obvious sign of injury, that is very, very suspicious," he said.

According to Sallinger, the red-winged black bird species is commonly poisoned because it's not illegal.

"When you poison birds, it's very easy to get non-common species. Other birds come in and feed upon those birds," he said.

In this case, both the hawks and bald eagle are protected, and killing them can result in serious fines, or even a jail sentence.

And, Sallinger says, by law, "Even if you didn't intend to kill the bird, if you did you're still liable."

A neighbor, who didn't want to speak on camera, has a different theory.

He has also been finding dead birds on his property and says this started after a new transformer was placed above the adjoining fields. He suspects they were electrocuted, but according to investigators, they show no sign of physical trauma.

"Until we get the test results back, all of this is speculation and it may well end up being something else," Sallinger said.

Portland General Electric confirms it replaced the transformer a month ago. However, a spokesperson tells FOX 12 its new equipment is "avian safe."

PGE sent an avian protection crew Friday to do an inspection of the transformer and they found it was outfitted to be avian safe, making it unlikely the birds were electrocuted.

Oregon State Police is also investigating. The birds are being transported to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife lab in Ashland for analysis.

In the past, the Audubon Society has offered rewards for tips that help solve cases like this one and Sallinger says, it may consider doing so in this case too. If you know anything about what happened be sure to reach out to the Audubon Society of Portland at 503-292-0304 or OSP at 503-731-3020.