"Dozens" of Birds Die Near Blue Plains

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dozens of tiny chimney swift birds were struck by passing vehicles along I-295 yesterday. Officials said they were chasing bugs at the time. (Published Thursday, Oct 7, 2010)

    Dozens of birds died Wednesday near the Blue Plains wastewater treatment facility, but the manager of DC Water said there is no indication that the plant had any direct connection to the deaths.

    George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water, said the chimney swifts were apparently trying to eat bugs near the facility when they were struck by vehicles driving on Interstate 295. Hawkins said many of the drivers probably didn't know the birds were being hit because they are so small.

    DC Water and the Department of Health responded to reports of dead birds on the road Wednesday night. The Department of Health even sent a hazmat team to investigate.

    The American Bird Conservancy said it doesn't think any external factors were involved and that it is possible "that atmospheric conditions forced the birds to fly very low to the ground where they were struck by passing vehicles." 

    A spokesman said that situations like this can happen when the weather is cool and wet. It causes bugs to fly closer to the ground, and the birds will follow.  A similar situation happened recently in Richmond, Va., he said.

    The ABC put the number of birds that were killed at about 200.

    Hawkins said three of the birds are being examined at a local lab "just to be absolutely certain" that there was no connection to the treatment facility.

    The birds apparently are migrating from New England to the south, Hawkins said.

    The Department of Health is the agency in charge of the investigation because the incident happened off of Blue Plains property on the I-295 corridor and on Overlook Road SE.

    The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest of its kind in the world, according to DC Water.