The unexplainable death of thousands of migrating birds in the Southwest region of America is believed by Ornithologists to be related to the current climate crisis.
Among the species involved in this national tragedy include flycatchers, swallows, and warblers. The “mass die-off” is occurring across New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and farther north into Nebraska, with mounting concerns that there can be a significant number of bids dead already, said Martha Desmond, a professor in the biology department at New Mexico State University.
“I collected over a dozen in just a two-mile stretch in front of my house,” said Desmond. “To see this and to be picking up these carcasses and realizing how widespread this is, is personally devastating. To see this, many individuals and species dying is a national tragedy.”
Long-distance migrants flying south from tundra landscapes in Alaska and Canada fly over the United States southwest to get to winter lands in Central and South America. During such journey, the bird must stop every few days before continuing their migration.
However, due to notable wildfires in America’s western states, it could have caused them to change the course of their journey from “resource-rich coastal areas” and travel over the Chihuahuan desert, where necessities are limited, leaving the migrants to starve to death. “They’re literally just feathers and bones,” Allison Salas, a graduate student at NMSU who has been collecting carcasses, wrote in a Twitter thread. “Almost as if they have been flying until they just couldn’t fly anymore.”
The migrant-affected states have encountered very dry conditions, which, according to the Guardian, could be related to the climate crisis. Such elements have left little to no availability of migrating birds’ main source of food, insects. A recent cold spell could have made the conditions worse for the birds.
“The fact that we’re finding hundreds of these birds dying, just kind of falling out of the sky is extremely alarming … The volume of carcasses that we have found has literally given me chills.”
Tristanna Bickford, the communications director at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, also believes that the climate crisis could have affected the migration. “Until we get the actual reports back from the National Wildlife Health Centre, we can’t say what is happening or is not happening,” she added.