Falling chicken parts probed in Virginia

This is a stock photo of chicken parts, not the actual chicken that fell from the sky. (Photo courtesy snowpea&bokchoy via Flickr)

ACCOMAC, Va. (AP) - Virginia authorities are asking a vertical version of the question, why did the chicken cross the road? Investigators are looking into a report that a piece of uncooked poultry fell from the sky and plunked a teenager on the head.

The Department of Environmental Quality investigation will likely focus on the possibility the chicken was plucked from an improperly maintained compost pile, spokesman William Hayden said Thursday.

An avian expert said seagulls flying high in the sky, and out of sight to those below, probably dropped the chicken parts. Some had speculated vultures were the culprit. "I doubt it would be vultures because they don't typically carry things and they don't regurgitate in the air," Bryan D. Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary, told The Daily Times.

Scientists who have monitored gull colonies on the Eastern Shore have found chicken bones, he said. Cassie Bernard was horseback riding Wednesday when the 1-foot piece of processed chicken hit her on the head. Other riders saw several more poultry parts fall from the sky.

Bernard was wearing a helmet and was not injured. Milton Johnston of DEQ's Tidewater office said the parts were probably spread on a nearby farm than from a nearby chicken plant.

"We can't have pieces of chicken falling out of the sky," he said. Officials from a nearby Tyson Foods Inc. processing plant denied that the flying chicken parts originated there.

Hayden said farmers typically use chicken parts from processing plants for their fields. He said the investigation will focus on whether the parts are being properly composted.