July 21, 2008

Conjoined Birds Die After Fall From Nest

An apparent set of conjoined twin birds - an incredibly rare find - has been discovered in Arkansas, authorities said.

The bodies of the barn swallows, which are attached at the hip by skin and possibly muscle tissue, are being sent to the Smithsonian Institution for examination and confirmation, Arkansas wildlife officials said Friday.

"I can't even say it's one in a million - it's probably more than that," said Karen Rowe, an ornithologist with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.

- Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

The birds, found by a White County landowner, fell out of a nest as a healthy sibling flew off to learn how to hunt with its parents, Rowe said.

Rowe said the landowner likely kept the birds for a day before calling wildlife officials. By the time officials arrived, the birds were not eating. One died early Friday, and a veterinarian later euthanized the other.

Finding conjoined birds is rare because they likely die before being discovered, Rowe said.

X-rays found that each bird was fully formed, Rowe said. She said the birds would have had to come from a double-yolk egg. Barn swallows can live for several years, though the conjoined twins might not have lived that long even if they had been separated.