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Blackbird Deaths Spark Concern

On January 1, 2011, residents of Beebe, Arkansas awoke to find hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds lying dead on their lawns and in the streets. Birds in a nearby roost had all taken off at 10:15 PM, when fireworks shook the windows of nearby houses. They died by colliding with wires, trees, and buildings. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for large numbers of birds to die each year. Domestic cats kill millions of birds annually. Millions die at night during migration when they collide with lighted buildings. Read the article and see a radar image of the birds taking flight at newsnet5.com.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Blackbird Deaths Spark Concern

Written by Gordon Orians

This is BirdNote.
[Calls and songs of Red-winged Blackbirds] 
On January 1, 2011, residents of Beebe, Arkansas awoke to find hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds lying dead on their lawns and in the streets. 
[Silence]
The Arkansas state ornithologist, Karen Rowe, examined ground radar records for that night. She found that birds in a nearby roost had all taken off at 10:15 PM, when loud booms shook the windows of nearby houses. Someone, perhaps celebrating New Year’s Eve, detonated professional-grade fireworks near the roost. Startled, the birds took to the air.  [Wing sounds of birds taking flight] Since they have no better night vision than we do, they died by colliding with wires, trees, and buildings in the dark.
If there is any good news here, it’s the degree of interest and concern this event raised around the country. People want to know the natural environment where they live is healthy, and when it isn’t, what’s causing the problem. 
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for large numbers of birds to die each year. During the last six months of 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded about 90 instances of mass deaths of birds and other wildlife. Domestic cats kill millions of birds annually. [Sparky] And millions more die at night during migration when they collide with lighted buildings.
So what can you and I do? Fortunately, it’s pretty easy. We can start by keeping an eye on our cats and by turning out the lights of our offices at night.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
                                                                               ###
Calls of Red-winged Blackbird provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.
Ambient by C. Peterson including wings from flight-08.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org           March 2011     Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# SotB-RWBL-01-2011-03-01     
 

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