13 January 2011

Thousands of Birds Dropping Dead. What's Happening?

5000 black birds drop from the sky on New Year’s Eve in Arkansas. Entire schools of fish float belly up on Chesapeake Bay. Tens of thousands of dead crabs wash up on the shores of England. Large numbers of penguins, turtles, even dolphins turn up dead.

These events are freaking us out. But what are we afraid of?

A recent article by Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Faisal Moola from the David Suzuki Foundation stated that huge die-offs aren’t that uncommon. Sudden, large-scale deaths have been recorded in nature before, and even date back to the 19th century. One report from 1964 includes 100,000 king eiders (a large species of duck), perishing in the Beaufort Sea. It was discovered that the birds died of starvation when the sea suddenly re-froze.

Dr. Suzuki and Dr. Moola say we should be more concerned with the long-term effects human activity has on nature. Cutting down forests to stretch the borders of our cities, paving grassland for parking lots, and our greatest worry, draining wetlands for roads, all create the biggest threats to wildlife today: habitat destruction and climate change.

Unfortunately, these are silent killers. We don’t notice that 17,000 plants and animals are threatened by extinction. Or that the risk of species extinction will drastically increase in our children’s lifetime. I think I speak for all parents, present and future, when I say I want my kids to learn about Mother Nature by watching it live, not by reading history books.

Maybe this sudden bird die-off is a good thing. Maybe we needed an attention-grabbing introduction in order to really hear what we’re doing to our wildlife.

Well, now that nature has your attention, do your part.

Pay attention to the impact you’re having on plants and animals, pressure politicians to implement sound regulations for wildlife and habitat conservation, and help save wetlands like your own Burns Bog.

Learn more about the Bog in your backyard at http://www.burnsbog.org/

When I first heard about the birds falling from the sky, I instantly thought about the world ending, and what I was going to have for my last meal! What were your thoughts when you heard about the birds dying?

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