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1:42 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Thousands of birds make crash landing in Utah

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Thousands of migratory birds are dead or injured after they apparently mistook a Wal-Mart parking lot, football fields, highways and other areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeted to the ground.

One state wildlife expert is calling it the worst downing she'd ever seen.

Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.

By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There's no count on how many died, although officials estimate it's upwards of 1,500.

Wildlife officials say stormy conditions probably confused the flock of eared grebes, a duck-like aquatic bird likely making its way to the Mexican coast for the winter.

No human injuries or property damage have been reported.

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