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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Debunking the Birdpocalypse

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: wildlife, birds, birdwatching, climate change, habitat, conspiracy, apocalypse, Audubon, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Red-winged blackbirds in Kansas 

As the bird carcasses pile up worldwide, falling from the sky like so many feathered omens of doom, it seems fair to ask if the many reported mass die-offs in recent weeks are a sign of the environmental apocalypse. The cool-headed bird geeks at the Audubon Society are here to reassure us: No, they’re not.

Audubon Society experts tell Alisa Opar at The Perch, Audubon magazine’s blog, that we shouldn’t read too much into the flurry of reported bird deaths.

“Mass bird die-offs can be caused by starvation, storms, disease, pesticides, collisions with man-made structures or human disturbance,” says Greg Butcher, Audubon’s director of bird conservation.

Opar fixes part of the blame for the bird hysteria “on technology allowing us to learn about isolated events and our impulse to look for patterns.” After the initial reports of coincidental die-offs, Google maps of bird deaths around the world quickly made the rounds, and flocks of amateur ornithologists collectively decided that it looked bad. Real bad. Before long, the birds seemed destined to join chemtrails and black helicopters as airborne signs of conspiracy and doom.

Now that the bird experts have calmed us down, we are left to focus our worries on other future apocalyptic scenarios. Reports Opar:

Isolated die-offs don’t pose a significant threat to our native bird populations, says Melanie Driscoll, Audubon’s director of bird conservation for the Mississippi River Flyway. “Far more concerning in the long term are the myriad other threats birds face, from widespread habitat destruction and global climate change to inappropriate energy development and invasive species.”

Tweet that, bird lovers.

Source: The Perch 

Image by xpda, licensed under Creative Commons.