Lair of the Beasts: Night of the Living Dead Birds (

By:Nick Redfern
Date: Saturday, August 31, 2013

As someone who researches, goes out and investigates, and writes about strange creatures, I’m constantly receiving weird stories. Sometimes those stories relate to definitively unknown animals, such as Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman. On occasion, the accounts are more paranormally-tinged. 

Now and again, however, the stories concern regular animals, but ones that are acting in very strange fashion. In fact, in what some might consider downright sinister fashion.

When we muse upon the notion of zombies, reanimated corpses, and the undead rising from their coffins, most of the time we think, or assume, that it is going to be the human dead that come back to plague and terrorize us. But, how about animals: could they, too, return to provoke mayhem and death on a worldwide scale? 

Zombie lions, zombie gorillas, or zombie wolves would all be formidable, terrifying killers. Without a gun or several to take them down, they would probably be near-unstoppable, too. Sadly, for those who think that such things might be infinitely cool to see (albeit not up close and personal, of course), they don’t exist, or at least not yet they don’t. But zombie pigeons do; of a sort, anyway.   

In the summer of 2013, and near-overnight, something strange and unsettling occurred on the streets of Moscow, Russia. The resident pigeon population began to change in a dramatic and bizarre fashion. The usually cooing and strutting birds started displaying the sorts of behavior far more in line with the collective works of George A. Romero. 

Konstantin Ranks, a Russian journalist, said of what was going on: “Before death, they start to resemble zombies; they lose their orientation and fly without a sense of direction, then fall, already lacking the strength to get up.”

One witness to the actions of what quickly became known as “the pecking dead” came straight to the point and said: “They’re just not normal.”
As the days and weeks progressed, hundreds of the feathered creatures were seen staggering around Moscow, all in what appeared to be near-drunken style. There was not a drop of vodka in sight, however. They would twist and contort their heads and necks in extraordinary style, while exhibiting sudden and violent outbursts of rage and manic behavior. 

On top of that, they showed no fear of people and stood their ground when approached, rather than hurriedly flying away. At the height of the mystery, there was even controversial, whispered talk about secret government experiments involving pigeons brought back from the dead. 

When further rumors spread, to the effect that the birds were infected with a secret, mutated version of Newcastle disease, the levels of concern and worry grew ever larger by the day. No wonder, since Newcastle disease is a highly contagious bird-based virus that can spread to humans, causing serious flu-like symptoms if left untreated. 

Concern and worry reached near-panic levels when the government’s Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Unit (FVPIU) officially suggested that Newcastle disease was the cause of all the feathery fuss. 

According to Russian officials, however, the whole thing was down to nothing stranger than an outbreak of salmonella poisoning. Was this an attempt to try and allay fears that a deliberately altered version of Newcastle disease was on the loose, possibly all across the entirety of Moscow itself? 

The Russian government continues to steadfastly play the matter down, stating that although it has no plans to investigate the ongoing zombie pigeon puzzle it advises people to keep well away from the birds. You know: just in case…

Nick Redfern is the author of many books on unknown animals, including Monster Files and Monster Diary.