Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Truth is stranger than fiction

Sounds a lot like a scene in the book, except it's an Associated Press story.

 Wed, Dec 14, 2011
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Thousands of migratory birds were killed or injured after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot,football fields and other snow-covered areas of southern Utah forbodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one state wildlife expert called the worst mass bird crash she'd ever seen.
Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the injured survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night.
AP photo
By midday Wednesday, volunteers had helped rescue more than 3,000 birds, releasing them into a nearby pond. There's no count on how many died, although officials estimate it's upwards of 1,500.

Read the full story here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This story says it all: 13.7 million birds die every day in the U.S.

At the beginning of this month when about 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in one night in Arkansas, biologists were called on to put a damper on public speculation about pesticides and secret military tests by reminding everyone how many birds there are and how many die. They often do so as a result of human activity, but in far more mundane and dispiriting ways than conspiracy buffs might imagine.

Five billion birds die in the U.S. every year,” said Melanie Driscoll, a biologist and director of bird conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi Flyway for the National Audubon Society.

Read full story here:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aves: A fiction novel based on facts.

This appeared in the New York Times Jan. 17, 2011: 

Pesticides kill 72 million birds directly, but an unknown and probably larger number ingest the poisons and die later unseen. Orphaned chicks also go uncounted.

And then there is flying into objects, which is most likely what killed the birds in Arkansas. The government estimates that strikes against building windows alone account for anywhere from 97 million to nearly 976 million bird deaths a year. Cars kill another 60 million or so. High-tension transmission and power distribution lines are also deadly obstacles. Extrapolating from European studies, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 174 million birds die each year by flying into these wires. None of these numbers take into account the largest killer of birds in America: loss of habitat to development.
All of this explains why about a quarter of the 836 species of birds protected under th eMigratory Bird Treaty Act are in serious decline. For a third of the other birds there is not enough information to be sure about the health of their populations.

Read full story here.