Since this year wasn’t scary enough, thousands of migratory birds are now dropping dead in the southwest.
in the late AugustBiologists learned of dozens of birds that fell from the sky at the White Sands Missile Range and White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. Since then, people all over Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and as far as Nebraska have discovered the dead creatures littered on hiking trails, golf courses, and even on their own driveways. Finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers, and thrushes are among the species that have been reported. It is not uncommon for some birds to die during their autumn migration, but not in this number, let alone fall from the sky in flocks.
“This is definitely not an annual phenomenon,” said Tristanna Bickford, spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “We wouldn’t normally see that.”
In addition to the dead birds, Bickford said her agency had received reports of birds appearing strangely sluggish. Some animals were seen Showing unusual behavior, such as not eating, falling to the ground and being sleepy search the soil for bugs to eat instead of sticking to their usual trees and shrubs. Many birds were observed unusually dry.
Scientists are not yet sure what causes this mass bird death, but researchers at Cornell University’s ornithology laboratory are suspect it has to do with the smoke from the historic forest fires that burn in the western United States drifted across the land on an easterly breeze. You quote a 2017 studyThis shows that exposure to smoke can lead to immunosuppression, shortness of breath, and other serious health problems in bird populations.
Another possibility is that the birds have trouble adapting to the unusual dry heat that the southwest has seen lately amid the worsening climate crisis. These conditions can be adverse to the insect populations that migratory birds depend on for food studies show has caused bird populations to decline.
“This year August 2020 was the hottest in history in many regions of the West,” wrote Andrew Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate at Cornell’s Ornithology Lab, in an email. “The smoke is certainly an immediate cause, but the heat and drought are contributing to it!”
Biologists across the country are still working on further research into bird bodies. On Wednesday afternoon, scientists from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will be sending carcasses for examination at the National Wildlife Health Center.
“Until we get these reports back, we don’t know anything for sure,” she said.
Farnsworth, however, is confident the climate crisis is likely a culprit, although the exact cause has not yet been identified.
“These things are immediately shocking, but to be expected immediately – the new norm in climate change is that we have to expect the unexpected,” he said. “While this is shocking, the magnitude of environmental change and its impact and impact on birds are not surprising.”
That would certainly be in line with recent reports. Just this week, the United Nations released a report showing that the leaders of the world have done so a single conservation goal not achieved What follows is another report published last week that shows two-thirds of the animal and plant populations have declined since 1970, partly driven by the climate crisis. Then there is one study last year showed that the US has lost almost 30% of its bird population since 1970. Now these effects are jumping from the pages of science to the real world.