Bird Die Offs

There are more bird die offs being reported--now in other countries.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I'm irritated that every dead flock is being reported with added commentary (like CNN's Anderson Cooper interviewing Kirk Cameron about the birds kills) asking if this is a sign of the "end times."  On the other hand, I'm happy that flocks of dead birds are reported and that people know this happens. Let me be clear about one thing: THIS IS NOT THE END TIMES.  This happens A LOT.  We just don't hear about it.  To give you some perspective, millions of birds (of several species) are killed by windows, cell phone towers, wires, free roaming cats and vehicles every year.  The numbers may not be seen, the dead birds are often eaten in the night by opportune scavengers.

According to Bird Conservation Network: at least 100,000,000 birds are killed and even more are injured every year across North America by collisions with windows.

An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 birds, mostly lapland longspurs were killed on the night of January 22, 1998, at a 420 foot tall communications tower in western Kansas--cause for serious concern and panic...especially since this sort of thing happens a lot and few people hear of it.

According to US Fish and Wildlife: At least 4 million and as many as 50 million birds are killed annually in tower collisions, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates. Here is a GREAT document from US Fish and Wildlife about birds and collision injuries.

From my perspective, incredibly common birds like red-winged blackbirds, grackles and starlings that have a tendency to move around in tight knit flocks of hundreds of birds getting wiped out by colliding into power lines, vehicles, each other via panic from fireworks is a concern but not a panic.

Cause for panic is BP trying to say that the Gulf of Mexico is fine and only 2000 birds were killed.  There were more, they are not easily recovered in the water and we have yet to see how wintering ducks are going to fare (not to mention how many birds their response teams killed by driving over their nesting colonies).  Will there be enough food for years to come.  I'm still far more concerned with the BP big picture than I am with the Arkansas Aflockalypse.

If you doubt that millions of birds are killed every year, here's a great example.  On September 11 of last year, they put up the Tribute of Light for the fallen Twin Towers and thousands of birds were trapped in it.  New York is on a major migratory bird route.  The winds were right for fall migration and birds were on the move.  With the tower lights on, they were attracted and couldn't leave.  The lights had to be turned off several times to get the birds to leave rather than spending the night trapped in the lights, exhausting their energy resources and possibly killing them.  This is just one night in one spot.  That to me is cause for panic.  Thousands of birds of several different species.  Many of these birds are the insect eating kind, not the "pest kind" like blackbirds who raid fields.  Here's a video of the event:


So, listen to those news reports, don't freak out that the end is near but do find ways that you can help solve these collision problems in your neighborhood and city.