Both nationally and internationally, the case of the 337 starlings which were found dead in a park in The Hague (The Netherlands) over a period of 16 days, attracted a lot of attention. It has everything to do with the just doubts about the roll-out of the 5G network and the frequency tests that are part of this. That radiation caused by 5G is harmful is beyond question, but whether it was the cause of the birds’ sudden death? Since this conclusion was soon presented as an accomplished fact on (inter)national alternative social media, we feel it is important to critically and objectively list and examine the facts.
Dutch version of this article can be found here.

Whether or not 5G radiation was fatal to the hundreds of starlings is, in our opinion, insufficiently proven, although we cannot exclude it 100%. With this list of facts, we leave the ‘echo chambers of both fearporn and denialism’ behind us and focus explicitly on finding truth. We do this on the basis of a fact check; we check whether statements are in accordance with reality.

The facts

In a period of 16 days different numbers of dead starlings were found:
– Friday October 19th ’18                    30 dead starlings;
– Wednesday October 24th ’18          30 dead starlings; 60 total
– Thursday, October 25th ’18             88 dead starlings; 148 total
– Thursday, November 1st ‘18         138 dead starlings; 286 total
– Friday November 2nd ’18                7 dead starlings; 293 total
– Saturday, November 3rd ’18           44 dead starlings. 337 in total.

No more dead starlings were reported after Saturday, November 3rd. However, on Friday November 2nd ‘18, 7 starlings spontaneously fell dead from the air in Breda (also The Netherlands). However, the municipality of Breda already came to the conclusion after 4 days that the group of birds had flown against a window. How and by whom research had been conducted and whether the impact of (5G) radiation was included as a variable is unclear.

Silent witnesses

On Thursday, October 25th, the only indirect “5G-witness” in this case meets two former colleagues from KPN’s “MAC” service division [KPN is a Dutch telecom provider]. According to him, this division is also responsible for conducting 5G frequency tests.

The two unknown KPN employees (the indirect witness stated that they wished to remain anonymous) report that they performed two frequency tests just before the incident in the area where the birds were found (the Huygenspark).
Location (see also figure 1) and details of these tests are referred to as ‘near Holland Spoor [a train station], on the roof of HS Telecenter’, ‘around the clock of 12:00’, but exact values and frequencies are not specified. 7.40 GHz is mentioned, but that is all.

Figure 1: Map of alleged 5G antenna, the Huijgenspark where the starlings were found and The Hague Holland Spoor train station.

On Thursday October 18th, the antenna in question was prepared, after which it was tested on Friday October 19th “just before 12:00, during several hours”. On Wednesday, October 24th, there was a follow-up, assuming that this was also a test at the same time and of the same duration. According to the limited information of this source, intensities were varied including testing at “peak load”.

Within this reconstruction it also important to highlight the intervening period (Thursday, October 18th – October 25th). In the week before the interactions that quickly led to the conclusion that 5G would have something to do with the starling deaths:
– it was learned that the starlings were found through various media;
– the mechanics reported to KPN that they saw a connection between the 5G frequency tests and the mass death of the starlings, and;
– KPN’s engineers were told nobody should talk about this. In addition, they received explicit instructions to remain silent the next morning.

Timeline, important details and possible explanations

Friday, October 19th, 11:17: first report on social media of the dead starlings found in the Huygenspark “at least 20 starlings found dead”.

Figure 2: First report on social media of starlings discovery.

First reporter Tirado indicates that the first dead birds were found by someone else around 22:30 the night before (Thursday October 18th). She herself found birds early in the morning, which according to her impression suffered a sudden death. Furthermore, the birds were consistently found under the sleeping trees over the entire period, and not in open spaces in the park. Speculations about strange behavior of other animals (ducks would behave strangely and starlings would fall from the sky) are according to Tirado: “totally untrue”. Tirado further says about the possible cause: “in the empty stomachs is the answer”.

Tuesday, October 23rd: as far as we have been able to trace, on this day for the first time an animal care organisation reports the dead starlings (see figure 3). The next day, it is reported on in the media for the first time.

Figure 3: First report by an animal care organisation of the starlings discovery.

Friday, October 26th, 15:48: Bird Shelter De Wulp reports findings from a dissection on a total of 15 starlings, by their own veterinarian and the Dutch Wildlife Health Center. Findings are compared and agreed upon: “Birds in good condition, minor bleeding in some animals, fat layer good for the upcoming winter, empty stomachs.” [All translation of original Dutch quotes by WeAreChange.NL]

Tuesday, October 30th: Speculations start about possible tests with 5G antennas and target frequencies for the 5G network.

Wednesday October 31st: Bird Shelter De Wulp: “Because many speculated on the 5G network; This was also discussed extensively, but is seen as non-logical by virtually all parties. Why then only starlings? And why on several days? And why “only” 150 in total while perhaps about 1000 or more starlings form the swarm? The animals have not flown out because of fear and also no sick animals have been found. But histological research will tell us more about this.” [Emphasis WeAreChange.NL)

Saturday November 3rd: Bird Shelter De Wulp (message updated: November 20, 2018 at 13:18): “Section of 5 starlings from each day indicate same findings which correspond to the sections performed in Utrecht. Well-fed animals, substantial fat reserves, little to no internal injury, empty stomachs. This means that the birds had not eaten for 12 to 24 hours. Usutuvirus, warfarin, avian flu, chlamydia and West Nile virus are excluded.”

Monday November 5th: Bird Shelter De Wulp reports after contact with the Antenna agency: “In this case we can also officially exclude 5G.”
It may be a question of semantics, but the wording in the five edits of the facebook message changes from “There is NO active 5G mast in The Hague. (In Groningen, Rotterdam and Valthermond)” (November 5, 2018 at 15:03) to “there were no tests with 5G conducted around the Huygenspark”, in the fifth edit (November 5, 2018 at 16:39).

Tuesday, November 13th: Snopes has, among other things, checked 5G frequencies in The Hague: only on June 28, 2018, Huawei seems to have received permission for 1 day to use 100 MHz spectrum in the C-band at 3.5 GHz (also see figure 4).

Figure 4: Relevant paragraph from Snopes article. Link full article: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/5g-cellular-test-birds/

Tuesday, December 4th: Bird Shelter De Wulp: “In the toxicological research, natural poisons (and the degradation products from the yew [a tree species] were found in the tissues.”
Further research is needed to determine how the poison ended up in the birds. Normally, the seeds containing the poison leave the digestive system of the starlings before the poison is released and / or absorbed.

Wednesday December 12th: Dutch Wildlife Health Center: “Even though the ultimate cause of death is known (bleeding due to trauma), it is still a mystery how the starlings suffered the trauma and whether the trauma was caused by a fall from a tree. A clear underlying cause for the mass mortality is therefore not yet possible, just that a number of things can be excluded.” Earlier reported viruses by Bird Shelter De Wulp are reported negative, other viruses are still under investigation. Rat and mouse poison were also found negative.

Dec ’18: The Natural History Museum Rotterdam devotes 3 pages in the publication Straatgras to the starlings based their own research. General impression corresponds to already known information: birds seem to be healthy at first impression: “The section also showed that all starlings were in good health, with well-developed muscles and some subcutaneous fat” (p.56), with the exception of the previously reported findings: empty stomachs, internal bleeding, ruptured livers, and bleeding at the skull. “Collision with a great force” is assumed to be the cause of death. Authors also mention similar incidents in Rotterdam. The size of the entire swarm is estimated at 10.000. Bird Shelter De Wulp estimates swarm size as “1000 or more” (October 31st).
Respectively, with a total of 337 birds this means between 3.37 and 33.7% of the particular population. However extensive 337 birds may sound, the percentage of the entire population is important to be able to determine the scope of the impact. Less than 5% compared to 1/3 of the entire group changes the order and the importance of the case significantly. First reporter Tirado who regularly observed the birds speaks of “thousands” of starlings. It can therefore be assumed that the total percentage of dead birds is around 5% at the most.

27 December ’18: Kees Moeliker, director of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam and one of the authors elucidates the article from Straatgras: according to him “nightly disturbances”, for example in the form of an owl, are responsible for the fact that a number of starlings “flew straight into the ground”.

Just the facts please; Reconstruction

Filter-bubbles and echo chambers are not solely reserved for the #MSM, the alternative media also falls victim to this. This is clear from the lack of more sources and lack of convincing evidence that there is a 1 to 1 correlation between the alleged 5G frequency tests and the starling deaths.

All speculations are based on the “eyewitness accounts” of 1 person, but unfortunately the details deviate too much from the facts we have gathered in the above time-line:
– the tests with the alleged antennas and frequencies cannot be verified,
– up to now, only the dead starlings have been reported in terms of casualties, while there is a minimum of 1 housing block between the alleged location of the antenna and the Huijgenspark. If there are actually frequencies used that can travel only limited distances, and thus decrease proportionately in intensity with the increase of distance, there potentially should have been (biological) effects observed in the particular housing block, not to mention with other animal inhabitants of the park,
– the times of the alleged tests and discovery of the birds seems to be too far apart (first discovery is over 12 hours before the first tests began).

The first observations are made Thursday evening, November 18th around 22:30; First reporter Tirado found the birds early in the morning under the trees.
Regardless, it may be assumed that the starlings leave their resting place at daybreak – in the Straatgras article the authors report that they see the swarm fly off at half past seven in the morning (p.55). How likely is it that a test that starts around 12:00 “for a few hours” will have effects on starlings that only return to the tree at the end of the day?
The first group of 20 dead starlings can therefore not be related to the alleged tests from 12:00 on Friday morning, November 19th, following the above timeline. In addition, it is unknown to us that radiation of the intensity and frequencies associated with 5G can “linger” and have a delayed effect.

– Finally, the other chronological information from the only 5G-witness in this story seems unlikely and inconsistent. The news about the dead starlings appears to have been published for the first time on Tuesday October 23rd; however, it is then still only about 30 starlings and time of the discovery is not disclosed.

Further critical consideration of how the 5G correlation has developed can be found in this Snopes article.

Of course, we don’t exclude that the various information regarding the tests with certain frequencies is flawed, incomplete or incorrect. After all, the (financial) interests and political implications are not small. However, in order to establish a correlation or causal relationship, more concrete information is needed.

Explanation model limited from the outset

What can be noted is that no effects of (electromagnetic) radiation from any of the investigating parties (Bird Shelter De Wulp, Dutch Wildlife Health Center, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, Erasmus Medical Center, and Natural History Museum Rotterdam) have been included as a possible explanation. It goes without saying that as the impact of 5G (or electromagnetic radiation) as a possibility was excluded in advance, there will also be no evidence found. The main reason for excluding this variable: the investigating parties consider the potential impact of 5G as “illogical”. This statement was made by Bird Shelter De Wulp in a facebook post on Wednesday October 31st:

“Because many speculated on the 5G network; This was also discussed extensively, but is seen as non-logical by virtually all parties. Why then only starlings? And why on several days? And why “only” 150 in total while perhaps about 1000 or more starlings form the swarm? The animals have not flown out because of fear and also no sick animals have been found. But histological research will tell us more about this.”

Bird Shelter De Wulp

The fact that this case continues to elicit attention both nationally and internationally is clear. The limited and ambiguous research results and conclusions (yew tree poison versus injury) as a possible cause of death also doesn’t contribute to a trustworthy conclusion. Has science reached its subjective limits or is there more to it?

Some considerations

As far as we are concerned, the following things are striking and deserve further research / action:
– excluding electromagnetic radiation as a possible cause, without any (consistent) substantiation, is unacceptable in the context of scientific research;
– there seems to be insufficient knowledge about the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation. This is apparent from the section entitled “Could 5G Technology Have Caused Something Like This in the First Place?” from the aforementioned Snopes article. Compare, for example, publications from Blank (2015) and the BioInitiative Report (Sage & Carpenter, 2012);
– which information is reliable; how can we determine whether there is intentional or unintentional misinformation?
– sources take no responsibility and parties involved do not provide openness (KPN and the government).
– especially with highly charged and controversial subjects, we need to be extra alert and critical regarding the basis and proof of allegations, standpoints and conclusions. Incorrect reporting can be more damaging rather than contributing to bringing awareness to critical topics.
– investigations into the cause of the fate of the starlings are still ongoing. An evaluation is scheduled to take place with all involved in The Hague.

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