Why are thousands of migratory birds dropping dead across North America?

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Bharat SharmaUpdated: Sep 16, 2020, 08:39 PM IST


Story highlights

A report recently revealed how thousands of migratory birds just dropped dead across the south-western regions in the United States

Extreme climate changes, natural disasters, raging pandemic, and high tensions in global politics: 2020 has seen it all. Now, it looks like the cohabitants of planet Earth are suffering too.

A report by The Guardian recently revealed how thousands of migratory birds just dropped dead across the south-western regions in the United States.

Experts have called it a national tragedy, and one which needs immediate attention, and is being perceived as direct result of the climate crisis. 

'Falling out of the sky'

Among species that were found dead across the region, “falling out of the sky” were flycatchers, swallows, and warblers. This is happening across Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nebraska. 

A professor from the New Mexico State University told The Guardian that hundreds of thousands of such birds could already be dead.

According to witnesses and first responders, many birds simply nose-dived into the ground, which instantly killed them.

It is customary for long-distance migratory birds to fly from cold habitats in Alaska and Canada towards South America. In this process, the fly over US’ south western regions, which are currently burning - quite literally.

The western regions in the US are currently witnessing intense wildfires, leading to mass evacuations, ringing climate change alarm bells.

Due to this fire, the birds may have been forced to take a longer route along the Chihuahuan desert, where resources are low, meaning they weren’t getting any food.

A student fro NMSU wrote on Twitter, “they’re literally just feathers and bones”, implying that the birds simply died off after they couldn’t fly anymore.

Raging wildfires

Many American regions are currently engulfed in wildfires, hazy with smoke emanating from these fires, which are seen as the direct result of climate change. Owing to this, fewer insects now survive in the area, which means less food for these birds.

Scientists believe these weather events are directly responsible for the mass deaths of birds. The changing pattern may have fooled birds into beginning their migration earlier than usual, or the smoke from the fires could have chosen the birds.

The first such deaths were reported on August 20 in New Mexico. Initially thought to be isolated incidents, social media reports revealed a pattern forming in the region, whereby migratory birds were dropping dead. 

Before dying, birds are reportedly displaying unusual behaviour - like lethargy, approachability, etc.