Mysterious Animal Behavior: The Zombie Pigeons of Moscow

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Pigeons, those hardy urban survivalists, rarely evoke much sympathy in humans.

But last year, many residents of the Russian capital, Moscow, have expressed alarm at the growing number of dead and dying pigeons on city streets.

What’s most unnerving is the way the normally spunky birds are behaving: they aren’t reacting to anything at all, don’t even pay attention to you, but strangely turn around in circles, become comatose, or drop through windows.

Veterinarians and ornithologists have confirmed the weird phenomenon of zombie pigeons. The moscovite birds are plagued by a huge bunch of various infections (bacterial infection, or ornithosis, or salmonellosis, or Newcastle disease), which spread via bird-to-bird contact either through airborne droplets or dust.

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And some of these infections – such as Newcastle disease and ornithosis – can also be transmitted to people.

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So when you see a ‘drunk’ pigeon, you better cross the street!

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