The Monday night crash landing of thousands of eared grebes in and near Cedar City, Utah, is being blamed on mistaken identity by the birds of a Walmart parking lot for a lake.
The birds were migrating during a storm when they apparently became confused and were forced to land.
About 1,500 grebes died and another 3,500 were rescued by state wildlife officials and volunteers, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The dead birds were disposed of in a landfill. Uninjured birds that were rescued were released into a lake about 60 miles from where they landed.
The eared grebe is the most abundant grebe in the world, staging in fall on Mono Lake in California and the Great Salt Lake, where it doubles its weight in advance for a nonstop flight to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, where it winters.
Here's a range map for the eared grebe from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.