Bird Deaths And Human Activity

 Starting couple of weeks ago, I noticed some old posts I published about mysterious bird deaths were suddenly getting renewed interest.

The first post to see a lot of attention was about mysterious bird deaths in Western Australia, Austin and Idaho. The second was about mysterious bird deaths in South Carolina.

The trigger for the new curiosity was a recent widely reported event where thousands of birds dropped from the sky in Arkansas.

As sad and intriguing as these incidents are, the American Bird Conservancy has pointed out these mass deaths are but a small fraction of the birds that are killed as a  known result of human activity each year.

A recent trip to a neighboring town drove that point home to me. The tail end of the wheat harvest is happening in my area and that means many trucks are headed for the silos. Some of their cargo is spilled on the road during the journey and that attracts many birds, such as an Australian parrot called a galah. On my last trip in, there must have been a hundred of these dead on the side of the road – and unfortunately, try as I did to drive carefully, I added one to the toll.

It’s not just vehicles that exact a heavy toll on bird life. I made mention in another post that buildings are huge killer of birds – mainly as a result of birds flying into glass windows. According to a maker of bird-deterring glass; a quarter of a million birds in Europe die each *day* through collisions with glass. That number is hard to fathom.

Additionally, the American Bird Conservancy states that up half a billion birds may die each year in the USA alone due to predation by outdoor cats and perhaps 15 million die annually due to pesticide poisoning. 

While birds, in their totality, are plentiful, there’s the lesson of the Passenger Pigeon that we still are yet to heed – that everything on this planet is finite and a species that can seem plentiful today can be gone forever in a very short space of time.

The bird death incident in Arkansas is tragic and has sparked all sorts of theories as to what happened, but has been positive in that it has helped bring this important topic to the forefront.

Added note: the official explanation for the Arkansas bird deaths at this point is New Year’s Eve fireworks. Us again.