Crow deaths subside in Lewiston neighborhood

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LEWISTON – No more dead crows have been found lately in the neighborhood around the Promenade Mall. But while that may be good news, the people who live on nearby streets are confronted with another mystery: there are no living crows out there, either.

“Normally, there would be hundreds of crows out there in the trees, maybe thousands,” said Ray Beaudoin, who lives on Summit Avenue. “Since this all happened, there are no crows at all. It’s very mysterious to me.”

Other neighbors have noticed the eerie absence of the ominous black birds as well. Fortunately, a man who lives a short distance away has an answer.

“They’re not seeing them because all the crows are over at my place,” said Dan Marquis, second vice president of the Stanton Bird Club, who lives on Essex Street.

He shared that news just before nightfall on Friday. All he had to do was look out his window to provide proof of the presence of crows.

“They start gathering here around this time of day,” he said. “I’m looking out the window and there are two or three hundred out there. There will be thousands before they move along.”

It seems the population of crows has simply moved a block over, but the question of what killed dozens of them a month ago remains.

In early December, several residents along Dumont Avenue, Summit Avenue and other streets around the mall reported finding large numbers of dead crows. The phenomenon seemed to be isolated to that area and no immediate cause was found.

Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout said there were no signs that the birds had been shot or killed by other traditional means. Some guessed that pollution from nearby smokestacks might be to blame. There was talk that the crows may have drank from a puddle laced with anti-freeze or other toxin. Some worried about West Nile Virus, though the season for it has passed.

There were – and still are – murmurs that maybe somebody intentionally poisoned the crows due to their loud and generally raucous behavior. Questions remain and interest in the mystery is still high.

“People on the street ask me about it all the time,” Beaudoin said. “I was just at the Home Depot and two people asked about it there.”

Beaudoin has no answers to give and neither do his neighbors.

“We haven’t heard anything at all,” said Barbara Cloutier, who lives on Summit Avenue. She said she noticed two dead crows this week while walking her dog near the mall, but believes they are leftover from the original mass death of the birds last month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has collected some of the birds and are testing them to determine the cause of death. In mid-December, they said it would be four to six weeks before they have results.

Strout, the animal control officer, said he is waiting for word from that group, as well. He has his suspicions about what might have caused all the crows to die, but figures he’ll wait for the official word from the laboratory.

While sudden and mysterious deaths of birds are uncommon, it’s a phenomenon that happens now and then in all corners of the globe.

Earlier this week, 63 birds were found inexplicably dead in Austin, Texas. Fear resulting from that incident resulted in a temporary closure of a section of the downtown. Officials in Texas are waiting for lab results to determine the cause of the deaths.

Around the globe, in Southwestern Australia, wildlife experts are trying to determine what cause thousands of birds to drop from the sky. As many as 5,000 carcasses have been found since mid-December there. And like the strange occurrences in Lewiston and Austin, Texas, no cause has been revealed.

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