‘Hundreds of thousands, if not millions’: New Mexico sees massive migratory bird deaths

‘Hundreds of thousands, if not millions’: New Mexico sees massive migratory bird deaths:






@lies, have you seen this? I wonder if there’s anything people in SoCal can do. Put out extra water, etc.

I had seen the story come through on bird twitter, but hadn’t read it until now.

Last week I was in the eastern Sierra Nevada, not far from the Creek Fire, and I noticed what seemed like an unusually large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the trees around the place we were staying. Like, I’d look out the condo windows and count 20 warblers, most of them first-year birds, flitting around feeding in the pines. It reminded me a little of the Thomas Fire’s aftermath near where I live in southern California, where we appeared to have lots of “refugee” birds in unburned areas during and after the fire. That makes me wonder if the extensive western wildfires might have pushed a lot of migrants out of their normal range or otherwise disrupted their migrations, leading to them heading south to New Mexico while in an insufficiently-nourished state to complete migration successfully.

Molt and migration are hugely costly undertakings for birds. It doesn’t take much disruption for them to get behind their “energy curve” and die in large numbers from starvation. That (of course) is one of the big risks of climate change: by shaking up what had been a relatively stable set of conditions over long time scales it can lead to mass die-offs (and not just for birds).

The article isn’t very detailed, and seems to be playing up the most-ominous-sounding quotes in a way that is intentionally alarming. I’m not trying to dampen anyone’s sense of alarm, but I’m suspicious of quick-hit science reporting that sensationalizes in a ploy for virality and readers. So I’m not sure how worried to be about this without hearing more. The article mentions that the dead birds are being examined to try to determine cause of death, which will be helpful in terms of trying to figure out the bigger picture.

Thanks for mentioning it. It’s definitely interesting and concerning.

I hope it’s sensationalist reporting, but given how many dire articles about nature in general are coming out lately, it’s hard to feel like I’m overreacting. Of course I hope I am.

Hopefully the ornithologists release reports to the news outlets once they have studied the birds more, rather than keeping the articles behind paywalls. (I clicked through to one bird study last night, and 48-hour access was $10, while a permanent PDF was $60. A PDF!)

Here’s a good explainer from Twitter: https://twitter.com/jg_hayes/status/1305533477438156800

I didn’t know that New Mexico had snow, and I definitely didn’t hear about the high winds. 

This video is disgusting. 

Another good article, this one about fire as a stressor for migratory birds: https://ca.audubon.org/news/how-do-californias-megafires-impact-birds

Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/629394481033183232.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.