Bird flu kills thousands of Common Cranes in Hungary


Bird flu has ripped through Hungary’s important population of migratory Common Cranes this autumn, killing tens of thousands of birds.

The deadly virus was first noted in the country in early November, in the counties of Hajdú-Bihar and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg. It wasn't long before it was evident at the world-famous birding destination of the Hortobágy NP – which is a major staging locale for migratory cranes.

Dead Common Cranes at Hortobágy (Tokody Béla).

Based on field studies, the number of dead cranes in Hungary is estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 individuals.

Hungarian scientists suspect the birds first encountered the virus when they arrived in the Carpathian Basin, as there was no news of crane deaths to the north or east. The mass deaths were first logged in the Hortobágy region after the number of migratory cranes peaked at 200,000. The virus then appeared in the Southern Great Plain and Western Transdanubia.