MORRISTOWN, Tenn. - The sudden death of 59 birds around a city ballpark prompted an inquiry by state wildlife officials.
The birds, most of them common grackles, were found by a maintenance crew Tuesday afternoon in and around Frank Lorino Park, according to Craig Price, director of the Morristown Parks and Recreation Department.
Price called the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and soon a team of investigators was scouring the park and a neighboring subdivision, and collecting specimens for testing.
The common grackle is one of 138 bird species known to carry the West Nile virus, but authorities said it was unlikely in this case because the birds died so quickly.
They literally fell from the trees and died on the ground, so investigators speculated they had been in a corn or tobacco field where farmers were spraying for insects.