Puns aside, I ran across these quotes from learned professionals in the field that might quell the quail kill hysteria that seems to be sweeping the globe as every lifeform known to man is suddenly dying in record numbers. Poor things. No, not the animals; I'm speaking about the paranoid delusionals who are reading all this hype. A lot of people unqualified to talk about this topic are really stirring up a lot of controversy and apocalyptic doomsday nonsense. Perhaps this will provide some balance.
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that bird collisions with tall, lighted communications towers, and their guy wires result in 4 to 10 million bird deaths a year." [source: www.currykerlinger.com]
"LeAnn White, a wildlife disease specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said bird kills occur more frequently than the public realizes. The USGS database contains at least 16 cases in the last 20 years of large numbers of blackbirds dying in contained areas. "We just think it's a rather strange coincidence," she said.
The most likely explanation for what caused the birds to plunge from the Arkansas sky is sudden trauma. Roosting birds probably panicked at the sound of holiday fireworks, flew into a frenzy and then crashed into each other at high speeds, scientists say. White said the Louisiana birds probably flew into a power line.
"Blackbirds will naturally, at this time of year, spend the night in large roosts, in thousands," said Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. "If they are frightened, which easily could be the case with fireworks, they could panic." And birds colliding at 40 miles per hour could easily kill each other.
Plus, preliminary reports released Monday by the Livestock and Poultry Commission Veterinary Diagnostic Lab show blood clots and internal bleeding in many of the birds, indicating that trauma had occurred before the fall. "These are not just dead birds lying on the ground," Inkley said. "These are damaged, dead birds lying on the ground."
(as for fish kills...)
Samples have been sent to the lab for analysis, and while results from the necropsies won't be complete for another three weeks, disease is considered a top contender. "Many diseases are host-specific, so it's a reasonable speculation on the part of the agencies," Inkley says. [source: Birds Tumbling From the Sky; Fish Floating Dead in the Water: How Unusual Are These Animal Die-Offs? By: Jenny Marder accessed from www.pbs.org]
"It is not that unusual," said Kristen Schuler, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Centre. "There is nothing apocalyptic or anything that is necessarily out of the ordinary for what we would see in any given week."
Indeed, the USGS keeps a log on its website with reports of groups of birds dying each week, averaging from dozens to thousands
[source: Mass bird kill theories take off |Web feeds curiosity, but experts say it's not unusual by KERY SHERIDAN, AFP via www.montrealgazette.com]