- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Recent thunderstorms likely contributed to the death of hundreds of purple martins that were roosting in downtown Tulsa, according to a local bird expert.

The birds have flown to Tulsa for decades for a place to stay for the night, but this year was the first they have been spotted gathering at the Sun Building. Property manager Kelly Baker said when he arrived for work Wednesday morning at the building, he found “dozens and dozens” of dead birds lying on the ground, in parking lots and in the streets.

Local purple martin expert and Tulsa Audubon Society member Dick Sherry said heavy rainfall can cause the birds to fall out of the trees they were in. Sherry said some speculated that the birds were poisoned, but he’s certain their deaths were weather-related.

Of the tens of thousands of purple martins that took up residence in the trees outside the building, more than 500 died were found dead, The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1Jt5Svj ) reported. Sherry said professors from the University of Tulsa and Tulsa Community College collected some birds to study them further.

Sherry isn’t sure how the birds pick their roosting spots, though they have been coming to the city since the 1980s.

“That’s what we can’t figure out,” There’s no rhyme or reason to why they seem to pick a spot,” he said.

Baker has worked at the Sun Building for 25 years and said he’s never seen the purple martins there before. His building is now appears to be a prime location to watch the birds swirl and swoop into the trees surrounding the structure.

Sherry said watching the purple martins fly in is a “spectacle,” which he likens to being inside a snow globe and watching the particles fall down all around.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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