Recent months have seen dead migratory birds falling from the sky in New Mexico and the entire Southwest, with scientists left somewhat perplexed by what is causing the incident. The majority of the species, such as warblers, bluebirds, sparrows, and blackbirds, are migratory animals who are merely passing through the region, with some of the factors leading to their deaths being the wildfires across the western United States and various unexpected cold fronts causing the birds to start their migration earlier than normal, preventing them from consuming the necessary nutrients to survive their journey. The Southwest Avian Mortality Project investigation has been launched to gain more knowledge about the events.
"We began seeing isolated mortalities in August, so something else has been going on aside the weather events and we don't know what it is. So that in itself is really troubling," New Mexico State University professor Martha Desmond shared with CNN. "This is devastating. Climate change is playing a role in this."
She added, "We lost three billion birds in the US since 1970 and we've also seen a tremendous decline in insects, so an event like this is terrifying to these populations and it's devastating to see."
Not all of the deaths occur in mid-air, as Desmond noted that the birds have been witnessed demonstrating unexpected behavior, such as searching for food on the ground as opposed to in bushes and shrubs. This has also caused a number of birds to be killed by automobile traffic.
While the major impact of the wildfires has been birds starting their trek before they were physically prepared, some birds have appeared to suffer from smoke inhalation.
"Birds who migrated before they were ready because of the weather might have not had enough fat to survive," Desmond pointed out. "Some birds might have not even had the reserves to start migrating so they died in place."
With the phenomenon being witnessed in Colorado, Texas, and Mexico, the impact could be staggering.
"It's just terrible," Desmond confessed. "The number is in the six figures. Just by looking at the scope of what we're seeing, we know this is a very large event, hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of dead birds, and we're looking at the higher end of that."1comments
Stay tuned for details on the event.
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