Thousands of dead turtle doves rained down on roofs and cars in an Italian town in the latest in a growing spate of mass animal deaths across the globe.
Residents in Faenza described the birds falling to the ground like 'little Christmas balls' with strange blue stains on their beaks.
Initial tests on up to 8,000 of the doves indicated that the blue stain could have been caused by poisoning or hypoxia.
Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, is known to cause confusion and illness in animals. It is also a common precursor to altitude sickness.
Experts said results from tests on the doves will not be available for at least a week.
They said that cold weather could have caused the birds' deaths as the flock was swept into a high-altitude wind storm before falling to the earth.
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