Sunday, September 20, 2020

Mass Mortality Events - Living Life in the Anthropocene

Why are birds dropping dead from the sky?

Delbert, C. (2020, Sep. 17). Hundreds of Thousands of Birds Are Suddenly Dropping Dead. No One Knows Why. Popular Mechanics.

An alarming “mass die-off” of wild birds in the southwestern U.S. has scientists worried—and perplexed. The cause is not at all clear, with some scientists theorizing that climate change factors are playing a part. Most of the birds are insect eaters, and they’ve been found emaciated and disoriented, suggesting a gap in the food supply. There’s also speculation that wildfires are affecting the lives of these birds.

...CNN reports on the dark phenomenon and firsthand accounts of the sick and dying birds. The observations sound like what you’d expect from animals with a contagious, behavior-changing disease like rabies. “On the [White Sands] missile range golf course [in New Mexico], swallows, which are aerial insectivores that don't even walk, were sitting on the ground and letting people approach them,” CNN explains... A team at White Sands first noticed the die-off, and Desmond told CNN and WBUR that she first believed the incident was isolated there, not because of any factors at the infamous missile range itself, but just because of the usual scale of these bird death events. From there, scientists began noticing other dead birds elsewhere in New Mexico and even states away. We likely won’t understand the full scope and range of causes for years.

The Anthropocene is well underway and I think we're on the menu: