ST. LOUIS – Wildlife officials are investigating why dozens of crows died around the federal courthouse in Downtown St. Louis recently and elsewhere in the metropolitan area.

“We did collect several of the birds and were able to send them to a lab,” said Dan Zarlenga, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We did a physical examination and didn’t see any evidence of wounds or anything like that. So, we are sending that to a lab to have them screened for possible toxicology issues, which would be poison or things like that or toxins. And we are also screening for diseases.”

A murder of crows has been congregating in the trees and parts of downtown, leaving marks of where they’ve been.

The General Services Administration recently contacted Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions about nonlethal measures to discourage the crows from roosting around park benches and causing a potential health risk. 

“The unfortunate part of when you get that many birds together are the droppings that come from that many birds can cause problems, let alone slipping hazards and potential respiratory issues,” said Jay Everitt, Technical Director Rottler Pest Solutions. “We’ve been brought in on a small scale to try and do some basic things to try and deter them. None of which are lethal. We’ve also installed a new ad junked down there, a new piece of equipment that is a distress call that we installed yesterday.”  

The sonic bird deterrents were installed days after the dead birds were first discovered. The boxes mimic the sound of various birds in distress.  

As many as 36 dead crows were found outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse this week. Another 50 dead crows were reported at Creve Coeur Lake over the weekend.

Sometimes blackbirds die in mass when threatened by a predator. They forget which way is up, crash into the ground, and die.

Bird flu cases have been discovered in turkeys as close as Kentucky and Indiana. The CDC said there is no public health concern for bird flu. It does remain a mystery and for some folks, an omen. In literature, dead crows are often associated with loneliness, despair, and misfortune.