Thousands of birds recently dropped dead in areas of Colorado and New Mexico, which reminds us of a similar mysterious series of events that were reported in Arkansas, Louisiana, Sweden, and other places between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.
Recently many people started noticing "hundreds of thousands" of dead birds in locations ranging from hiking trails to suburban driveways and golf courses in Colorado and New Mexico regions. Researchers said that there is more than one factor to blame.
Martha Desmond, a professor at New Mexico State University's department of fish, wildlife, and conservation ecology, said, "It appears to be an unprecedented and a very large number. I've never seen anything like this in New Mexico in recent times."
While researchers are still investigating the cause related to the mysterious death of these birds in Colorado, the sudden temperature plunge and heavy snowfall observed last week across parts of the state are most likely the reason behind this unusual incident.
CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) tweeted on Monday, September 14 that there's some speculation that high winds and poor air quality could be contributing to it.
The Mysterious Death of Birds
Biologists are currently examining whether the wildfires on the West Coast would have played a role in the deaths, with smoke plumes potentially increasing the toxins inhaled by birds.
Researchers at the universities in other parts of the country are also looking at possible reasons such as the drought in the Southwest that has decreased the insect populations that are a source of food for many migratory birds.
As per Dr. Desmond, one of the first alerts about the dead birds came on August 20. At that time reports described a sharp increase in deceased birds which were found at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.
Trish Cutler, a wildlife biologist at the White Sands Missile Range, told KOB over the weekend that "this last week we've had a couple of hundred, so that really got our attention." A video posted by Las Cruces Sun-News shows a cluster of dead birds he discovered while on a hike on September 13 in the state's northern Rio Arriba County.
According to CPW, two of the local spots where the dead birds have been widely reported include Gunnison and Durango areas. The US Forest Service of Santa Fe National Forest stated in a Facebook post on Friday, September 11 that "unexplained songbird mortality has wildlife biologists in New Mexico very concerned."
A few years ago, when a similar incident happened, the scientists said that it wasn't due to some apocalyptic plague or insidious experiment as it occurs usually. At that time, ornithologist Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society in Washington, said that there were at least 10 billion birds in North America "... and there could be as much as 20 billion—and almost half die each year due to natural causes."
Results from preliminary testing released by the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, showed that the birds died from blunt-force trauma. At that time ornithologist Karen Rowe of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also said that the birds collided with cars, trees, buildings, and other stationary objects.
In fact, right before the fall there were loud booms professional-grade fireworks, which might have forced the birds to fly lower than they normally do—below treetop level—and those birds "have very poor night vision and do not typically fly at night." As per Butcher, "On foggy nights, birds that should probably normally be paying attention to the stars get disoriented and circle around the structures until they collapse" and fall.