Last month, there have been reports of migratory birds dying in large numbers in New Mexico. This caught the attention and the concern of many organizations and experts, who are trying to find out why exactly all of these birds are randomly dying off. Let's see what information we have to date.
Birds dying off
"We've never seen anything like this… We're losing probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of migratory birds," says Martha Desmond, an ecology professor at New Mexico State University.
Many residents have reported seeing many dead birds on hiking trails and in the streets. The Bureau of Land Management and the White Sands Missile Range are just a few of the organizations that are researching why this is happening. But do we have any leads so far?
Why is this happening?
There does not seem to be a single reason for why this is happening, but there does seem to be a few educated guesses.
Due to the wildfires in the west disrupting their normal flight patterns, this can be causing them to migrate a lot sooner than would otherwise have happened.
“We definitely know that fire can be good and bad. And that many times, burned areas provide a lot of benefit to wildlife," said University of Connecticut ecologist Andrew Stillman."But the face of fires out West is changing. And some of these newer, larger megafires can produce many different threats to wildlife species.”
Another factor could be the sudden cold front that came in. As a result, the temperature dropped upwards of 40 degrees in a matter of hours. This could have taken many birds by surprise, especially if they were not prepared to migrate in the first place.
The US Fish and Wildlife Services stated:
“Temperatures dropped 30-40 degrees in just a few hours, disrupting the birds' journeys along their migration routes causing them to drop out of migration into areas in the southern United States where water and food supplies necessary to replenish energy stores were limited,”
So there may be a lot of factors at play that caused upwards of millions of birds to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But there is no doubt that climate change is making this much worse. Hopefully, we can do something about it soon, or these mass die-offs will take place far more often.