Shocking Photos

Starlings Dive-Bomb the Autobahn & More Animal Suicides (PHOTOS)

From starlings on the autobahn to cows jumping to their deaths, the seven oddest animal suicide stories.

A motorist on the Austrian autobahn got a shock Monday when a flock of starlings dove off a power line and flew straight into the car. It’s not clear how fast the vehicle was going, but at least 100 birds died in the collision. But as bizarre as the incident sounds, it was far from the first time a group of animals has committed suicide. The Daily Beast takes a look at some of the oddest animal mass deaths.

Simon Walls / Getty Images

New Zealand Whales

Sixty-one pilot whales died on a beach in New Zealand last November after they washed up onshore. A large number of the whales were already dead when they reached land, according to local authorities, but several of the whales were still alive. Rescuers attempted to push the survivors back out to sea, but they stubbornly swam back to shore. About 20 of the whales had to be euthanized.


West Coast Pelicans

In 2009, pelicans on the West Coast started acting a little strange. Some crashed into cars, others crashed into boats, and still others just seemed disoriented and got struck by vehicles. Hundreds of the birds, from Oregon to Mexico, eventually died. What caused their demise? Scientists aren’t sure, but it might have been related to a virus or odd weather patterns that year.

Sebastien Feval, AFP / GEtty Images

Swiss Cows

Lauterbrunnen is a charming Swiss village nestled in the Alps. But it became the site of a mass cow suicide in August 2009. Twenty-eight cows and bulls plunged to their deaths in the span of three days by walking off a cliff. The animals fell hundreds of feet and died instantly. Local authorities had to remove the bodies by helicopter so they didn’t contaminate the groundwater.

Juliet White / Getty Images

Overtoun Dogs

In the last 50 years, about 50 dogs have jumped off the Overtoun Bridge in Milton, Scotland, to their deaths, leaving dog owners around the world to wonder whether the area is haunted. The bridge, a Victorian structure built in 1895, stands 50 feet above the stream below. The dogs jump off at almost exactly the same spot and have all been long-nosed breeds like Labradors and collies.

Biju Boro, AFP / Getty Images

Jatinga Birds

A small village in India known as Jatinga has become famous for the mass bird suicides that occur there every September to November. Hundreds of birds wait for the sun to set and then fly into buildings and trees in the town. Local ornithologists believe the birds are attracted to the light, but the phenomenon still has many experts puzzled, as most feathered fliers are active only during the day.

Bulent Kilic, AFP / Getty Images

Turkish Sheep

Sheep are known as followers, but the townspeople in Turkey’s eastern Van province were still startled when hundreds followed each other to their deaths by jumping off a cliff in 2005. The first sheep made the 50-foot fall and then were followed by 400 others, all of whom perished. Another 1,100 sheep followed suit but were saved by their fluffy brethren, who broke their fall.