Science | September 14, 2020 7:00 am

Why Are So Many Migratory Birds Dying in New Mexico?

Scientists are grappling with an alarming question

birds
Migratory birds are dying in New Mexico, and no one knows why.

As the wildfires currently affecting the west coast demonstrate, 2020 has had no shortage of alarming ecological moments. A new article by Algernon D’Ammassa at the Las Cruces Sun-News offers another item to be alarmed by: specifically, that scientists in New Mexico have noticed a host of migratory birds dying in the state in large numbers, and no one is sure why.

Raising the alarm is New Mexico State University professor Martha Desmond. In an interview with the Sun-News, Desmond described the situation as one that defies belief. “We’re losing probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of migratory birds,” Desmond said, giving a chilling estimate as to the stakes here.

A number of migratory birds were found dead in August, which scientists initially took to be an isolated incident. Subsequent events have revealed that this, unfortunately, not the case.

In the same article, wildlife biologist Trish Cutler noted that the affected birds were showing signs of fatigue before dying. The issue also seems to be affecting migratory birds only.

“One thing we’re not seeing is our resident birds mixed in with these dead birds,” Cutler said. “We have resident birds that live here, some of them migrate and some of them don’t, but we’re not getting birds like roadrunners or quail or doves.”

The scientists are continuing to research the reasons why the migratory birds are dying. The article also notes that they have not ruled out a connection to the ongoing wildfires.

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