Mass death of wild birds: Is climate change responsible for this disaster?

By | September 21, 2020

After the death of sixty thousand antelopes within only four days that has struck the world with horror and doubt in late May, it is now an alarming ‘mass death’ of wild birds in the southwestern United States that has caught the attention of fauna lovers.

This time, it is in the southwestern United States. According to scientists the cause is not entirely clear, however, some theorize that climate change factors are playing a major role in this incident. Another group of experts does not rule out the possibility that forest fires are affecting the lives of these birds.

Famine and fires

Most of the dead birds found were insectivores and have been found emaciated and disoriented. This suggest a drop in food supply, which strongly reinforces the hypothesis that climate change was behind this unfortunate event.

Ecologist Martha Desmond, professor in the department of fish, wildlife and conservation ecology at New Mexico State University, has advanced this hypothesis:

This is the migratory season and birds move in pulses with big weather events, a lot of birds flying south of this region at that time. Bird deaths in the spring and fall with weather events is not so usual. It is usually a single-pulse event, like hail or snowstorm.

In those rare cases, there are hundreds if not thousands of dead birds, but never hundreds of thousands.

There are a number of potential factors that make intuitive sense.

First and foremost, migratory birds already walk a fine line as they decide when to migrate and what route to take. They sense weather patterns and seasonal changes and are attracted to flying south. This is why chance weather events can interrupt migration in many ways.

Fires would also be contributing.  Air pollution on the birds’ weak lungs might also be the reason.

Between extreme weather and subsequent reliance on unseasonal or uncharacteristic food supplies on the road, birds may be caught in between the two examples mentioned above.

The first deaths discovery was in New Mexico in late August. Hundreds of dead birds were reported in White Sands initially, but the reports extended to Dona Ana County, Jemez Pueblo, Socorro and even Roswell.


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