Bird expert: Don't worry too much about the Deadbirdpocalypse

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50 Responses to “Bird expert: Don't worry too much about the Deadbirdpocalypse”

  1. Rich Keller says:

    I’m worried about an Undeadzombirdocalypse. If that happens, will there be enough turtles to go around?

  2. irksome says:

    Pick one:

    1. The Judeo-Xian god is a vengeful god and someone pooped on his Caddy.
    2. iT’s tEh EnDTimEs aNd we’Re aLL GOnNa diE.
    3. It’s a slow news cycle and the US Congress was out of session.

    Happens every summer too. It’s usually shark attacks but this year we got the “Victory Mosque being built at Ground Zero, oh noes!”.

    • mfrankly says:

      I’m gonna pick #2, and then I’m gonna be smug as hell (turns to Maggie) when 99.999% of Earth’s species go extinct over night.

      Then I’m gonna pack up and head to the hills before the zombies come for me.

      iT’s tEh EnDTimEs aNd we’Re aLL GOnNa diE!!!

  3. dark victoria says:

    it’s already begun, the conflation of crazy and headlines in the following link is enough to make your head spin. still, if you like a quick turn around on your conspiracy theories, and you’re into quantity, then this really deserves an award. The John Birch Society Wants You!

    http://www.eutimes.net/2011/01/top-us-official-murdered-after-arkansas-weapons-test-causes-mass-death/

  4. Valentin ADNREI says:

    I cannot say what happened, although I was born and grew up in a mountain area, almost a wild one. But I can bet that in a very short time Hollywood will launch a movie about this subject. I’m not surprised if they already work on it…

  5. Artimus Mangilord says:

    Everyone should be relieved now that Kirk Cameron weighed in on Anderson Cooper’s show.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Since the beginning of time, humans have always shaken sticks at the sky, at the big ball of fire, cowered at and made up ridiculous ‘explanations’ for things they didn’t understand. Always jumping to conclusions.

    Humans never change. Some isolated occurrences of birds falling from the sky and we think it’s the ‘apocalypse’. See?

    If the end of the world were coming, we’d know. There’d be no weird ‘perceiving’ of things. We’d know.

  7. olmsteader says:

    One word will take all the mystery away, “Starlicide”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlicide

  8. aldasin says:

    Thank you for countering the media hype about a non-event.
    -The Illuminati

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      No problem. My check is in the mail, right? The damn hippies with the climate change conspiracy have never paid their invoice, and I won’t get burned again.

  9. justanotherlooser says:

    thanks for the details. my heart don’t hurt so much now. but every time i look outside i wonder what mysterious event announces the tree falling in the forest. must go feed those mysteriously living birds now.

  10. Ugly Canuck says:

    I’m no expert, but people shouldn’t worry too much about the Government, either.

    This song has the same message:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZYHP6IBoac

  11. Anonymous says:

    It’s the apocalypse, Charlie Brown.

  12. drew3ooo says:

    I find these die offs interesting and also think they are likely not unusual. I don’t see why these two items must be mutually exclusive, that it’s only interesting if its abnormal.

    I’d be interested in seeing figures and patterns and potential spikes over time and also a break down of how many each year are due to human interventions on habitat (of any kind at all) which I do believe would still provide a very interesting picture on our influcence on the environment in which we live with other species.

    If they are cyclical events, that does not make them not newsworthy. It simply makes the context in which they are reported important. The weather is cyclical as well, but for some reason we watch it pretty closely. Variations over time (increases, decreases) are telling of things to come and patterns can indicated even if humans are having a “mundane” impact on species die-offs.

    I personally don’t mind that the conspiracy hounds are compiling all of these. They possess a certain obsessive nature that can pull in a lot of data in one go. The rest of us can then dispatch with the hyperbole, analyze the information and see what is happening. Just because there’s not a conspiracy, that doesn’t rule out the general human tendency to take a giant crap on their habitat and ruin it for themselves and the other creatures that inhabit it. Time and analysis will tell to what extent. Unfortunately it will be some point too late once we know.

  13. PaigeA says:

    This is a refreshing article. I do NOT believe in the biblical end times prophesies, I do however tend to get sucked into the mass hysteria that occurs when something like this happens. Avian flu make me a nervous wreck. I saw four or five dead hawks on the side of the highway today and I have to tell you, my heart skipped a beat every time I saw one. I should tell you that hawks are birds that notoriously feast on dead animals on the side of the road, and I drive a two hour highway in Kansas that is nothing but open plains, so birds often get hit because there is just such a large number. Not to mention a wind advisory today (40 mph gusts.) So, is there any cause for concern or am at the point that I could read into just about anything? I need some positive words!

  14. sirkowski says:

    Have these birds received the MMR vaccine?

  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s a lot more fun to think about conspiracy theories so I’m going to keep doing that. There’s a lot of cool ideas that can make shit like this happen!

  16. hadlock says:

    “I’ve been holding back on writing anything here about the spate of reports concerning mass bird die-offs in the United States and around the world. Frankly, this story reeks, to me, of the sort of “unexplained phenomenon” that later turns out—with much less fanfare—to have an extremely mundane explanation”

    This certainly brightens my opinion on you and boingboing considerably. For the last year or so it’s been disappointing to read sensationalist posts from this site which were clearly written to drive traffic, with little content and written in an alarming tone in an effort to drive comment volume up. It’s good to see BoingBoing is finally turning the corner, and that you’re leading the way on this :) Here’s to a better, more successful BoingBoing in 2011 :)

  17. carljohnson says:

    I used to work for a state environmental agency. Some batch of some kind of animal died off in some kind of numbers every week. It was nearly always natural and easily explained.

    It is exactly our ability-turned-need to find patterns in everything that is making this into a news event. Soon there will be conspiracy theories about it. Then it will be Obama’s fault.

  18. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I wouldn’t have paid much attention to this if it weren’t for the fact that the Brewer’s Blackbirds here are going batshit crazy. I actually went outside the other day to see why it sounded like someone had opened a turkey farm next door. There were hundreds of them flocking and gobbling in a way that I’ve never observed in several decades of birdwatching.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this just a Jubilee?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_Bay_jubilee

    See also, Act 4 of this episode of This American Life:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/248/like-it-or-not

    Of course, this doesn’t explain the birds.

  20. BTWBFDIMHO says:

    They died of excessive twittering.

  21. bklynchris says:

    Just for the record, would you mind posting that it is NOT the end of days. Pattern finding penchant is a fascinating evolutionary stutter, just like fat and sugar eating…that’s why we eat donuts when doing sudoku…..

  22. Manooshi says:

    Back in high school in suburbia- I told a goth dude that he reminded me of a crow. (Lame, I know.) And then a crow dropped dead onto my mom’s front lawn a few weeks later, and the crow-dude was too freaked out to date me, because he thought it was an ‘omen’ of something. Nevermind science and the fact that the West Nile virus had arrived.

  23. enkiv2 says:

    Charles Fort gathered and recorded mass animal dieoffs (including birds) in a number of his books. I don’t think even the fortean types are terribly impressed with the numbers here. We aren’t exactly talking rains of butter (Scotland, 1782) or highly visible wars between crucifix-shaped UFOs (the Germanies, during the protestant reformation) here.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      “…crucifix-shaped UFOs…”

      Isn’t that what airplanes would look like… to people previously ignorant of airplanes? Flying crosses?

  24. Sork says:

    Here’s a fresher link to the Sweden case, now closed
    http://www.thelocal.se/31278/20110106/

  25. Willie McBride says:

    You just suffer from ornithanatagnosia.

  26. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Has anyone had the sense to take the auspices?

  27. Anonymous says:

    At the University of North Texas, circa 1997-2000, I witness the annual thrwarting of the Starling migration. In fact, when I coaxed my mom to come for a visit there were two guys fiddling with what looked like a flare gun underneath a giant tree filled with at least a thousand birds. They launched something into the tree, which exploded with a huge pop, and the birds took flight, sans about two dozen of them that fell out of the tree from an instant death of shock. The fleeing birds were pooping, and it sounded like rain all around me; an instant later I got a glob on the cheek. Meanwhile, the assistant grabbed the dead birds and shoved them in a bag. UNT made a policy of trying to keep the millions of migrating Starlings from taking an evening roost around the campus, as their crap literally covered cars, benches, artwork, and people. When I first saw this story, that is exactly what came to mind.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Plus, fuck starlings.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I agree that a scientific approach should be taken before leaping to conclusions. Just because you haven’t seen an object in the sky behave like that before doesn’t mean that a race of aliens from an interstellar civilisation have come to wipe out humanity.

    However, a recent mass bird death somewhat like that described here occurred in Albany a town on the south coast some years ago. After much government denial it eventuated that the animals were loaded with lead which had come from containers of lead carbonate being transported to the port for shipping. High winds had made the material airborne and it had propagated through the food chain to the native birds which showed a high sensitivity to the heavy metal.

  30. Phikus says:

    I still suspect fowl play.

  31. Donald Petersen says:

    “Deadbirdpocalypse” may be the band name, but “Don’t worry too much about the…” must be the Greatest Hits album title.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t seen this mentioned yet, but in at least a couple of cases the bird deaths were caused by a combination of New Year’s eve revelry sending them into flight (guns, fireworks, etc.) and the fact that they can’t see well at night. The cause of death was shown to be blunt force trauma (from flying into things unseen). This was on NPR a couple days back.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I’ve just figured all of this out. A group of people are traveling around the planet playing real-life Angry Birds. It’s just a matter of time before the slingshot and the collapsed shoddy structures containing dead pigs are revealed.

  34. BB says:

    This comes to mind, from January of 2009:

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/dead_birds_littering_franklin.html

    “Hundreds of birds that dropped dead on Somerset County cars, porches and snow-covered lawns, alarming residents over the weekend, were all of a rather foul breed of fowl–the notorious European starling, which the United States Department of Agriculture killed on purpose…. Now, the USDA is acknowledging making a few mistakes of its own by not more fully warning people around a Princeton Township farm, where it applied a pesticide on Friday to kill 3,000 to 5,000 starlings that have been plaguing a livestock farmer.

    “It was raining dead birds,” said Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine….

  35. That Neil Guy says:

    I don’t know Edith ZImmerman makes a pretty persuasive case for patterns…

    http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/decoding-the-bird-death-maps/

  36. petroleum says:

    I think the zombie satellite has some ‘splainin’ to do.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Sorry folks, I am still not feeling good about all the possible logical and statistical arguments for why this recent bird (and possibly fish) kill should not be disturbing.

    I grew up in science, I’m usually the one saying wait! Understand our information science, understand history and statistics. Usually, but not this time.

    Slam me all you want to, but science goes only so far as the facts and data available. And the open mindedness of the observers.

    I’d feel better if we the public had immediate access to what aircraft was where at the time, or what gov/mil/sci experiments were in progress at the time. I know I know. I don’t want to spark the paranoia irrational response either.

    But I don’t feel that this situation is good or normal. I would wait a few months, keep an eye on this and keep looking for information before assuming either good or bad about these recent issues. I would continue asking for more information.

    Sorry, your voices of reason are quite reflective of my usual voice, but this time, I am a bit worried.
    T

  38. The Life Of Bryan says:

    We’ve been shooting them down with the Seneca Guns.

  39. GeekMan says:

    Maggie, your critical, non-reactionary thinking is always so refreshing. Thank you.

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      Well, this is what happens when I let it stew for a couple of days. Tuesday, I was all, “Oh, shit just got real!” The key is to step away from the computer. ;)

  40. Anonymous says:

    I can’t be the only scientist correlating these mass migratory animal deaths to the recent increase in earths sun spot and magnetic field activity?

    Am I?

    Really “earth science 101″ stuff:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/magnetic/animals.html

    http://ehsmanager.blogspot.com/2011/01/shift-of-earths-magnetic-north-pole.html

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