Living in a big city is difficult enough without having to worry about walking outside and getting hit in the face with a dying pigeon. The Russian capital of Moscow has become inundated with sick birds that become disoriented, spiraling around without a sense of direction and whacking into people’s heads — a phenomenon that some news outlets have dubbed the “pigeon apocalypse.” As the Guardian reports, the most likely culprit for the feathered assaults is an outbreak of Newcastle disease, a contagious avian bug that is also transmittable to humans but is not fatal.

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According to the Guardian, not all pigeons are affected, but many are acting as if they have been drugged, dropping from the skies and lacking the energy to get back up. Some dead birds have been found with salmonella infections, and the spread of both illnesses is believed to be due to above-average temperatures. Whether this is an extension of a global, yearly phenomenon that takes place after mating season is still unclear. Luckily, the more dangerous avian flu has not been detected in the population.

The Guardian notes that several Russian bloggers have suggested that the pigeon plague is a sign of end times, noting that the tsarist mystic Rasputin predicted the end of the world as occurring on August 23 of this year. No matter what the prognosis for the Earth may be, humans are encouraged to stay away from the bodies until they can undergo proper disposal.

Via the Guardian

Images via Flickr users patrick_standish and Calvin.