Have record low temperatures in Xinjiang frozen birds to death?

By February 22, 2024 Environment

This claim has been circulating on social media and even small news media platforms. According to these posts, a cold snap which swept certain regions in China over the past few days has caused the death of “hundreds of waterfowl.” Accompanying these claims is a video depicting multiple dead birds on what appears to be a frozen body of water.It is true that parts of China have been experiencing extremely low temperatures –  the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region reported the lowest temperature recorded in 64 years at minus 52.3 degrees Celsius. The cold and snowy conditions have affected railways and roads, with low temperatures predicted to continue over the following days.

However, while we found multiple reports on the weather from both Chinese and international news sources, we were unable to find an official or properly sourced account of bird being frozen to death as a result.

A reverse image search of captures from the claim video instead reveals that it is actually clipped from an Instagram post by user seanweaverdwc – posted on 18 February and filmed on 9 February on a lake in South Dakota in America.

According to the individual who filmed the video, the birds are snow geese who died from avian influenza (also known as bird flu) during migration season and subsequently were half-frozen into the lake – likely in December rather than in recent days.

Therefore, the claim that record low temperatures in Xinjiang have frozen birds to death is based on a mislabelled and misrepresented source. Beyond the video used as evidence of the claim, we could find no other mention of any mass bird deaths in Xinjiang during the recent low temperatures. We give this claim a rating of false.

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