Skip to main content

Yes, mostly starlings; however, Red-Winged Blackbirds in AR and LA are a rice crop pest.
Washington, State, 2008:

Thousands of Dead Birds a Shock in Yakima County

"I apologize; we should have notified them," DeVries said. "The USDA did a controlled kill, but a lot of the birds fly in and fly out and they didn't know where some of them would end up.

So, why would it be a stretch to suspect the USDA Wildlife had a hand in AR and LA?

National Wildlife Research Center Scientists Address Blackbird Damage to Rice

Wildlife Services’(WS) National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) is the only Federal research facility devoted exclusively to resolving conflicts between people and wildlife through the development of effective, selective, and acceptable methods, tools, and techniques.

Blackbirds, specifically red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, and brown-headed cowbirds, cause extensive damage to newly planted rice and ripening rice.  

Involved:  Gowan Co and Syngenta

Or are bird flocks dying because of LRAD Bird Deterrent Technology:

For a nearly 5 minute demonstration of LRAD Bird Deterrent click on this link, then scroll to the bottom of the article, where you will see this option :

To view a video of the LRAD-B system in operation CLICK HERE and go to minutes 1:20 for capacity and 1:45-1:55 to watch RED WINGED BLACKBIRD demonstration!

If you click on CLICK HERE, you will be able to watch how bird flocks leap into the air when the LRAD directs a loud, shrill noise to "scare them away".  Or is it pain that makes they fly away?

LRAD sound is very painful to humans:

It can deliver recorded warnings in Arabic and, on command, emit a piercing tone…"[For] most people, even if they plug their ears, [the device] will produce the equivalent of an instant migraine," says Woody Norris, chairman of American Technology Corp., the San Diego firm that produces the weapon.

"It will knock [some people] on their knees."  CBS News reported in 2005 that the Israeli Army first used the device in the field to break up a protest against Israel's separation wall.

"Protesters covered their ears and grabbed their heads, overcome by dizziness and nausea, after the vehicle-mounted device began sending out bursts of audible, but not loud, sound at intervals of about 10 seconds…

A military official said the device emits a special frequency that targets the inner ear."

If fireworks is a believable scientific explanation for how a "loud noise can cause a bird die off", how much more plausible would a die off be IF an LRAD device were used?

How do birds appear if killed by hail?  Like this.  A 1974 report of the Great Duck Die Off in Stuttgart, AR.  Doesn't sound like hail caused the Red-Winged Blackbird die off.

Red-Winged Blackbirds are a problem for many crops.

BLACKBIRD AND COMMON GRACKLE DAMAGE TO CROPS

Both the Common Grackle and Red-Winged Blackbird have been known to cause significant damage to crops.... Red-Winged Blackbirds can cause damage to other crops, such as oats, rice, sunflowers and sorghum. If you have a blackbird problem and need assistance keeping blackbirds away from your crops, contact a Critter Control professional today.

Arkansas and Louisiana have had a black bird problem for years.  Here's a report:

EFFICACY AND FARMER ACCEPTANCE OF NONLETHAL CONTROL OF BLACKBIRD DEPREDATIONS TO SMALL GRAIN CROPS

Introduction

In 1980, Congress responded to complaints of migratory bird damage to grain crops, principally rice, with added funding for enhanced Animal Damage Control (ADC) programs in Arkansas and Louisiana.

This resulted in the establishment of an office in Stuttgart, Arkansas (where the ducks in 1974 were hailed to death, see above) and a similar office in Crowley, Louisiana.  Enabling legislation specifically directs the principal focus to be on rice/blackbird conflicts.

This paper will present a review of the problems addressed in Arkansas, techniques utilized and the author's assessment of their efficacy and acceptability.

But, aren't migrating Red-Winged Blackbirds protected under Federal Law?  Yes.

Blackbirds are federally protected by the United States under Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.....as stated in federal laws regarding migratory birds (50 CFR 21). Additional blackbird killing restrictions will vary per state.

The following is a sampling of some of the more commonly known birds of the over 800 species covered under the treaty:

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Black-capped Chickadee, Parus atricapillus
American Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus
Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis
Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum
Cliff Swallow, Hirundo pyrrhonota
Barn Owl, Tyto alba
Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens
Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis
Mourning Dove, "Zenaida macroura"
Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos
Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis
Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus
Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven, Corvus corax
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
Canada Goose, Branta canadensis

Or maybe the Red-Winged Blackbirds Treaty protections expired?

Remember the "Rubber Stamp Congress", so-called because there was a Republican President, Bush II, as well as a Republican controlled House and Senate?  The 108th?

They Amended the Migratory Bird Treat Act.

Senate Bill 2547 An Act to Amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)

Citation: 2004 Senate Bill 2547

Citation: s. 2547

Last Checked by Web Center Staff:

Summary:   This Act, now known as the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act (MBTRA), revamps the MBTA by excluding species of birds that are "non-native" to the United States.  Under the bill, a bird species shall not be treated as native to the United States if the species occurs in the United States solely as a result of intentional or unintentional human-assisted introduction after the date of adoption of the treaty in 1918.  

As a result, some 94 species of birds currently protected under the treaty would lose their protected status.

In short, any bird species deemed to be introduced to the U.S. by humans after 1918 is not protected by the MBTA.  Think Starlings!

Starlings are a problem species.  And with no protection under law, the USDA has launched huge Starling kills as the solution.  Again, made legal around 2004 by the 108th Congress' MBTRA.

Why would we discount the possibility that Arkansas and Louisiana are not using similar methods to get rid of the Red-Winged Blackbirds?

Well, I searched and found an evaluation of this change to the MBTA or the MBTRA.  

It's irritating to read, but I didn't find any indication that the Red-Winged Blackbird has been removed from protection.  

Final List of Bird Species to Which the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Does Not Apply

This notice identifies those species that are not protected by the MBTA, even though they belong to biological families referred to in treaties that the MBTA implements, as their presence in the United States and its territories is solely the result of intentional or unintentional human-assisted introductions.

In short, most confusing and might need to be revisited especially as the above quote does not include the date of appearance of the species to determine to its status as of the MBTA or 1918.

Unless a change in law can be found disqualifying the Red-Winged Blackbird from MBTA protection, if the Wildlife/USDA did kill off the Arkansas Red-Winged Blackbirds on New Years Eve, 2010, it is doubtful they will readily admit it without an investation.  

And, if there was no intention of doing so, then why did the NWRC launch into such intense research into methods to poison Red-Winged Blackbirds?***

Here are some of the USDA's Wildlife Services Research for Blackbird Killing/Repelling accomplishments as of 2004, or shortly after the 108th changed the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty:

If you go to the following link you will find this important and interesting research report:

United States
Department of
Agriculture:       Wildlife Services Seeking Solutions Through Research
                             

Wildlife  
Services            Management of Blackbird Damage to Rice
FY 2004

Contact Information:

John Cummings, Wildlife Services Research Wildlife Biologist

NWRC Headquarters
4101 LaPorte Avenue
Fort Collins, CO  80521
Phone:  (970) 266-6131 FAX:  (970) 266-6138
E-mail:  john.l.cummings@aphis.usda.gov
Web site:  www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/nwrc  

Major Research Accomplishments;

• WS completed a rice producer survey of blackbird damage to rice in
Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, California and Texas.

• WS evaluated the efficacy of Aza-Direct, GG-orange terpene, caffeine and
GWN-4770 as potential blackbird repellents for use on rice seed and ripen-
ing rice to reduce blackbird damage.

• WS evaluated alternative baiting strategies for the effective and safe
delivery of DRC-1339, a toxicant for the control of depredating blackbird
populations.

• WS determined DRC-1339 dietary effects on several species of non-target
birds.

• WS determined blackbird response to several concentrations of DRC-1339.

• WS determined residue levels of DRC-1339 in soil and plants following
applications of the bait for blackbird control.

• WS determined the potential hazards of DRC-1339 to non-target bird spe-
cies.

• WS determined the movements and distribution of blackbird populations
causing damage to rice crops in Missouri.

Economic Assessment of Damage—A recent survey of rice pro-
ducers indicated that blackbirds caused over $13.5 million in dam-
age to rice in Louisiana, Arkansas,
Texas, California, and Missouri during the 2001 crop year.  Indirect economic losses, such as the cost of bird control devices and losses from government subsidy programs, were estimated at $3.4 million.  

Survey results will help determine the direction damage management and research should move in the future.

Chemical Repellents—NWRC scientists conducted a series of
laboratory and field tests to identify, develop, and evaluate potential chemical repellents for reducing bird damage to newly-planted and ripening rice.  Registration of a chemical repellent for seeded or headed rice could have a major impact on reducing damage losses and environmental hazards and increasing profitability.  

DRC-1339 BaitingNWRC scientists conducted DRC-1339 dose response and dietary toxicity tests on blackbirds; evaluated non-target species hazards of DRC-1339 in Louisiana, Missouri and Texas;

To reiterate, the USDA has not alerted residents in the past when they operated large bird kills.

Yakima, Washington, 2008

Marilyn Stapleton looked outside her backyard Saturday morning and thought one of the 10 plagues of Egypt had struck down the birds in east Moxee.

Hundreds of them lay motionless everywhere, and beyond her property lay bodies of thousands more. She spent several hours picking up the small black birds until she filled three trash bags, all the while wondering what the heck happened.

"They were just everywhere ... just like they fell right out of the sky," she said. "I was really upset because nobody said anything about this."

The Feds promised in 2009, to do a better job of warning communities:

In New Jersey, 2009:

The targeted starlings, an invasive species that displaces native birds and fouls agricultural operations, consumed a slow-acting poison at a USDA monitored bait-site in Mercer County on Jan. 23, a Friday. But the birds did not remain on the site, as expected, and died on the weekend -- when federal officials were not around to handle calls from local officials.

Clay said starling treatments will not longer be done on Thursdays and Fridays in that area, and new protocols will be developed for working with local officials.

Federal authorities who killed hundreds of starlings that dropped from Somerset County skies last weekend promised New Jersey representatives today they will better notify local officials of future "treatments" of nuisance birds.

The promise from the Wildlife Services branch of the United States Agriculture Department was made in a letter to U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) following the commotion caused last week when the USDA launched an effort to kill 3,000 to 5,000 European starlings that were plaguing a Mercer County farmer.

I wonder who the farmer was?

Well, this may or not explain the die offs in Arkansas and Louisiana.  However, the past behavior of USDA/Wildlife and the similarities are sufficient to warrant an inquiry.

What is surprising is the lack of suggestion by the media of this possibility.  It didn't take very long for this writer to find the above information.

And, if the Red-Winged Blackbird is a protected migratory bird under the MBTA, and the law is being disregarded by the USDA/Wildlife then we might have a problem.

But maybe not. World Hunger is a huge problem.  Rice is the hugest staple.  Maybe food takes priorities over birds, even protected birds.  Whose call is that?

Syngenta

The company has also increased its research on crop protection products and is working to develop and implement new agricultural techniques and training for farmers.

Syngenta, another sponsor of the International Rice Congress, also indicated that rice production needs to grow in order to meet population growth.

“With over 65 percent of the world’s hungry in Asia, progress in rice productivity is still lagging behind the advancements of other crops,” said Mike Mack, Syngenta CEO in a prepared statement. “Collaboration and partnerships must be embraced more extensively if we want to build a sustainable livelihood in rural economies for the world’s smallholder farmers, including the more than 200 million rice farmers in Asia, while helping to meet food security.”

The Asia Society and International Rice Research Institute estimate that rice production needs to grow by four million metric tons each year to remain constant with population growth, according to Syngenta.

Is 'four metric tons/year' a lot?  Enough to warrant Red-Winged Blackbirdicide in Arkansas?

I hope people will call their State and Federal Representatives and demand answers and not just accept "fireworks, hail, and/or lightening" as probable causes for the deaths of 5,000 Red-Winged Blackbirds.

Now, for some Flox News Comic Relief, because heaven knows we all need some to clear out 2010 and prepare for 2011:

______________________________________

Inside the mind of a researcher:

Counting the Birds

I am including this information for the purpose of demonstrating a reporting trend, by officials and the media, that has been developing:    conflicting quantative reports.

It is a concern because people are losing faith in both officials and the media to truthfully report.  This trend is stimulating conspiracy theories, which become "news" for those who hear them and don't take the time to check for sources.

Flashback to the BP Oil Spill story.  You may remember the amount of oil being leaked into the Gulf of Mexico was under estimated greatly until scientists got on the story and the amount soared to devastatingly high amounts, far, far in excess of BP and Government reporting.

While researching for this article, I noticed that there are many versions of the quantities of Red-Winged Blackbirds that fell to their death on New Years Eve in Beebe, Arkansas.

To demonstrate this, I have Google searched the following phrase changing only the quantity:

Arkansas "#### dead birds found".  Here are the results:

More than a 1,000 Birds, January 1, 2010

2,000 Birds, January 3, 2011

5,000 Birds, January 2, 2011

Is it any wonder that people are distrustful of the news?

THE BIRDS DEATHS CONTINUE ELSEWHERE, January 6, 2011

I noticed when I searched "Arkansas "5000 birds died" that new stories were appearing for other areas, so I adjusted my Google Search to:  "5,000 birds die" because most of the new bird die off stories mention the no-called Arkansas Aflockalypse:

Louisville, Kentucky:  Some Birds

Murray, Kentucky - Couple of hundred

Lastly, I limited the Google Search to "dead birds":

Tyler, Texas - 200 Birds

Nashville, Tennessee - Hundreds of birds

Falkoping, Sweden - 50-100 "Scared to Deathath by fireworks, fell in the road and were hit by cars" Swedish newspaper

Falkoping, Sweden -  CNN reports:  

The institute said they died due to "sudden, hard external blows," according to the press release. They had no signs of infection or other illnesses, and there were no external signs indicating what killed them.

"We have determined that the birds have died from severe internal bleedings caused by external blows," said the Institute's Marianne Elvander.

OK, I have to stop here and ponder.   The labs are faster in Sweden to report.  

The birds died from external blows causing internal bleeding BUT there were no external signs indicating what killed them.

Bastrup, Louisiana:

Grackles and starlings seemed to rain on the countryside between Bastrop and Log Cabin for about five days in January 1999.  “They died from a bacterial infection that caused *lesions in the brain, skull and adjoining tissue,” said Anthony. “All of the birds were emaciated, indicating that the infection had been present for some time.”

In 1999, several thousand grackles fell from the sky and staggered about before dying in north Louisiana. It took five months to get the diagnosis: an E. coli infection of the air sacs in their skulls.

Who do you believe?  

What are the specific facts?

What I have learned from doing Research using the internet is that truly specific information may or may not be extracted; however, trends are certainly available.

There is/are trend(s) regarding mass bird die offs.

However, the reports of the actual cause(s) of the Beebe, Arkansas die of of 5,000ish Red-Winged Blackbirds seem fishy.

SPEAKING OF FISHY

Maryland, USA - Million of dead fish:  Cold Water Exposure

Arkansas - 100,000 Dead Drum Fish

Brazil -  up to 15 tons of dead fish washing ashore in South America.


CONCLUSION:
 It's all speculation until it isn't.  We can only use the information available to us.  Internet research has too many weak links to be conclusive, in my humble opinion.

Sadly, as budgets are stripped to the bone, independent research itself is at risk of a massive die off.

Originally posted to War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:26 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Have updated with new information as I find it (10+ / 0-)

      Not saying this is the cause, but there is enough info to make this a very plausible question to ask, and possible answer.

      One the media is choosing to eliminate from their coverage, which is odd.

      It wasn't that hard to find.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:56:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On bird control (17+ / 0-)

        Red-winged blackbirds can become a nuisance species in some places.  They are, however, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty.  Culls in support of agriculture are allowed under the treaty, but only by permit.  In short, if dead red-winged blackbirds were the result of a targeted kill, there would need to have been an injurious to agriculture permit issued.  If a starling cull (see below) causes a mass death of red-winged blackbirds, well ... someone screwed up, badly.  Besides the fact that shouldn't ever happen, it's also the sort of thing that gets you fired.  Or fined.  A lot.  Or both.

        But you are right that the government kills starlings.  In fact, a few years ago, the last time I knew the numbers, the government killed an estimated 1.7 million starlings that year.  Not that we're running out.  Starlings are an invasive species.  They've caused huge population crashes for just about every native bird their size, especially bluebirds and the purple martin.  As a result, they (and the House Sparrow) have no protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty.  In most places, they don't even have any hunting restrictions.  Starling season is every season, and the bag limit is "all of them".

        Mass poisoning of starlings might not seem like an elegant solution.  In fact, it's not a "solution", in that it's just trying to manage and control the problem rather than solving it.  There are not an abundance of other options currently available.  Invasive species control is one of the major unanswered problems in ecology management.

        "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

        by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:23:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  while I can't emotionally agree (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BachFan, ginja, War on Error

          with mass killings of any animals, its true that invasive species can be bad for the environment, wiping out all competitors, limiting biological diversity and upsetting the balance of ecosystems.

          Invasive plant species can do the same kind of damage.  Its just harder to think of killing millions of birds as opposed to millions of strands of Chinese wisteria.  

          •  Agreed (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, pico, War on Error, jfromga, Joieau

            In a fairer world, we wouldn't have invasive species, or at least they'd only be unlovable sorts.  But I'm an unwavering supporter of control and, where possible, eradication of invasives, whether that means kudzu or starlings here, feral cats on various islands, rabbits in Australia, or red foxes in Tasmania.

            "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

            by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:53:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not sure wide spread poisoning is (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ginja, jfromga, Joieau

              the right answer.  The poisons don't disapper, but could ultimately create a much more dangerous invasive species.

              But we are so far down the ladder of altering nature, I am not sure that nature, herself, won't rid herself of us, just so she can survive.

              It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

              by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:34:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, this one does. (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kevskos, accumbens, pico, jfromga, ban nock

                Having found the compound used for starling control, it's a remarkably "good" poison.  It is fatal to starlings (and a few other types of birds, including gulls, which it is also used to control) in extremely low doses, fatal to most everything else only in markedly higher amounts, and photodegrades in soil in about a day or in other conditions between 6 hours and 2 days, and has photometabolites with minimal recognized toxicity.  Besides, these culls are done with targeted baiting, not with any sort of widespread dispersion.  It's a hugely different sort of chemical than something like 1080, which is admittedly pretty nasty, but is about the only option in, say, Tasmania, for red fox extirpation efforts.

                And I'm not sure what you're going for by claiming that poison culls of environmentally damaging invasive species can "create a much more dangerous invasive species".  This isn't the bit where we import a predator or a starling disease and let it loose.

                That said, if there was a better method of mass-scale control of invasive species, ANY invasive species, I'd be all for it.  This is only one of the most critical outstanding problems in ecology management today, after all.

                "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:43:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Holy Kudzu, Batman! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bronte17, jfromga

            Ah, it's so pretty. Extreme high protein greens for pot likker too, as well as the most nutritious goat/cow/horse fodder on the planet. Plus, it makes the finest black tilth compost ever underneath, as it dies back each fall. Legume, you know.

            Unfortunately it grows 2 feet or more a day, literally eats houses, cars and slow moving critters (you may never find them again). Invades and destroys forest stands, interferes with electric and telephone transmission where the utility uses above-ground wires, and cannot be controlled by anything but goats. No mower (believe me, we have a Super DR and 13+ acres) or harvester can handle the vines in season. I'd get goats, but bears would eat 'em (same reason I don't have chickens or bees).

            Sorry. "Invasive" is most certainly the proper term. There's laws, they can come spray very gnarly crap on my property any time without permission. So far, they haven't. The railroad just sprays RoundUp twice a season to keep the rails from disappearing. It's biodegradable, gets nowhere near my crops, orchard or vineyard.

            Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

            by Joieau on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:58:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  My sympathies (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos, War on Error, jfromga, Joieau

              For having to deal with kudzu management.  It is actually possible to eradicate it, but it's grossly labor intensive.

              "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

              by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:08:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Those monster roots (6+ / 0-)

                that produce the vines every year provide a staple starch as well as a treatment for alcoholism and liver disease on the Chinese market. I can sell them just as I sell my goldenseal and ginseng and black cohosh. The flowers make very nice jelly, though nobody likes jelly around my 'stead (prefer jam). Still, they're beautiful. We do eat the greens, I mix 'em with kale or collards because they're too light (mushy) for us to eat plain. Very nutritious. Have made baskets and wreaths from the fall vines, as well as some very sturdy pole bean tents for the garden. Someone in South Carolina says he has a harvester that can handle the vines, which if true opens up a huge fodder market.

                I can live with it. As, I have noticed over the years, can almost all the native plants that it's competing with. The natives have simply altered their life cycle - honest, it's amazing - to grow, mature, flower and seed before the kudzu greens in late spring. Same species of natives grow elsewhere on the property unstressed by kudzu, keep their normal cycle and get much bigger overall, sometimes have different colored blooms, and make use of different insect pollenators. Life finds a way, evolution in action.

                Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

                by Joieau on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:21:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Are you all up on the invasive species (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jfromga

                taking over the Mediteranean Sea?

                Someone dumped their aquarium into the Med Sea and not it's really, really, really widespread.

                Maybe this globalization thingy isn't all that great for most of us that don't have private jets.

                It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:21:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Med (6+ / 0-)

                  The problems of the Mediterranean deserve a diary.  Actually, they deserve a diary series, because no one would ever read it all in one sitting.  Maybe I'll add "invasive species roundup" to my list of planned DK4 diary series.

                  Short version: the Med is, to be totally blunt, a clusterfuck.  It has alien species that have become established by traversing the Suez Canal, by entering from the Atlantic on ships or in ballast water, by escapes from coastal mariculture, and by aquarium introduction.  It doesn't help that several countries on the Med go through the motions of fish catch limits every year seemingly just so they can flout them.

                  "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                  by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:36:27 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That would be a great dk4 series. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BachFan, jfromga

                    Thank you very much for your help today with this topic.  You really helped tremendously.

                    What a shame that we don't feel the Partnership the government and the people could be.  Instead it feels more like the Corporate/Government partnership vs the people.  Some days are better than others.

                    Thousands of protected birds dropping dead and falling from the sky with no warning is one of those bad days.

                    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                    by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:21:02 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Appreciated! (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BachFan, War on Error, jfromga

                      DK4 is going to keep me really, really busy.

                      I do want to add one thing.  It's important to keep in mind that, even when the government drops the ball on its duties, the people who work in these low-level positions, like at state Fish and Game Commissions, are almost always "real people" who care about their job as managers and caretakers of our natural legacy.

                      They don't take away your soul when you take a government job, and those state and local offices are without exception overworked, undermanned, and underpaid and underfunded.  It's sometimes easy to lose track of that, and think of the government as a monolithic entity, with everyone on the same page.

                      "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                      by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:34:59 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  That's why we need investment in research to come (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ginja, War on Error, jfromga

            up with better solutions. Like some kind birth control for the invasive species. Bio-controls for plants, that don't become pests too, etc.
            We spend the last hundred years doing research with petroleum mainly, the less troublesome solutions have been researched only for a couple of decades.

        •  Hi, just added new info regarding the change (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau

          to the Migratory Bird Treaty

          Made by the infamous 108th Rubber Stamp Congress.  They removed over 90 species.  Is it at all possible that the door was opened for killing off the pesky, rice crop damaging, Redwinged Blackbirds?

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:01:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nope. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, War on Error

            Actually they removed far fewer than that when all was said and done.  There are more "species" removed because, in the interim, a lot of taxonomy had changed and so the names of species as enacted were no longer current.  The problem was solved by removal of the old ones and addition of the new ones.

            There were about a dozen species actually struck from the list, almost all of which had to do with how the "native range" of birds was determined as regards outlaying areas.  Oh, and the mute swan was dropped from the list because it is, in fact, not native, and shouldn't have had protections in the first place.

            Red-winged blackbirds, I assure you, are still there.  In fact, the full list is helpfully available from the Fish and Wildlife Service, here.

            "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

            by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:17:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Just a quick correction (0+ / 0-)

            I think you mean AR (Arkansas) not AK (Alaska)?

            Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

            by Gustogirl on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:44:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Mixed Flocks Of Grackles/Cowbirds/Blackbirds (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error, Joieau

          They always show up in the the fall. While they don't flock as tightly as starlings, there are many hundreds over a fairly small area. We like them because them because of their crow like behavior and will take food like pigeons, which is entertaining in a large wild bird.

      •  You're right, it is odd that the media seems to.. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ginja, maryabein, War on Error, Joieau

        be perpetuating this "mystery."

        One the media is choosing to eliminate from their coverage, which is odd.

        It automatically makes me suspicious that they're hiding something. i.e., either incompetence or something more sinister.

        But, that's just me.

        Good catch, WoE. Thanks for putting this together

        The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception -- Carl Bernstein

        by markthshark on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:17:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are welcome. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ginja, markthshark, maryabein, Joieau

          Had to satisfy my own curiousity.

          I believe in cause and effect.

          The effect of 5,000 birds lying dead in a square mile radius led me to believe there has to be a rudimentary cause.

          I assumed it to be man made.

          And the 'firecracker story' made me laugh out loud and spit water towards the TeeVee.

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:30:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not as implausible as you think. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau

            Birds suffer a lot from our agricultural policies and I don't mean to minimize that fact at all.  I'm not sold on the firecracker story, but it is not as unbelievable as you might think.

            The birding (and larger environmental) community in Arkansas is pretty solid - remember that they've been energized by things like the possibility of Ivory Billed Woodpeckers in their midst.  If there is a chemical or other man-made cause behind this, I think they will push on this.

            They only call it Class War when we fight back.

            by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:37:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Red-winged Blackbirds (5+ / 0-)

      ...are a beautiful site to see in the Mountain West, where they perch on fence posts above seas of grass.

      Corporations have been enthroned and an ERA of corruption in high places will follow -- Lincoln. -9.38, -5.18

      by Nulwee on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:53:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I had a feeling it was something like that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah, War on Error

      We have massive flocks of tens of thousands of grackles pass through n central Texas every  year. They are a nuisance, but around here they mainly go for post oak acorns.

  •  Maybe... (4+ / 0-)

    but it seems odd they all died within minutes of each other just before midnight on NYE.

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:30:54 PM PST

    •  I have at least 20-50 birds at my one (4+ / 0-)

      feeder in my backyard.

      It's possible.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

      by zenbassoon on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:32:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the other bird kills, they ate the poison (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simian, KenBee, ginja, renzo capetti, Joieau

      and died 24 hours later by falling out of the sky into peoples yards.  Of course, they were shocked.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:57:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Massive trauma was seen in this case (6+ / 0-)

        Poisoning wouldn't cause massive trauma. Fireworks are the best explanation I've seen.

        look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:12:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Poison could certainly cause massive bleeding (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error, Joieau
          Starlings have been poisoned with bait and by aerial spaying, back in the 60's it was 1080
          (maybe),
          (I will check that passage in the book I read about tonight....in truly massive numbers, bragged about 450,000 iirc)
          (1080 is cheap, widely used, still used in Mexico...but according to wiki: 1080 and pdf's not used against birds, I will check my source...but it was the less regulated 60's and is used against herbivores...maybe youFish would know)
          (   aerial Starling controls would seem to unlikely to be as effective: drift, noise, spooking the target that does fly at night if startled, ground baits much better...I still think weather)

            The fish kill is a maybe, just maybe relayed story, and there certainly could have been poisoning and illegal dumping.

             But I think weather for both, but don't trust the media, regulatory agencies/gubbmint, or even the 'scientists' to report accurately. Sadly.

          It's funny this occupies our attentions...but so perfect for all the right and wrong reasons.
           

          Does this rec make my head look fat?

          by KenBee on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:34:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Starlings (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, KenBee, lineatus, War on Error, ban nock

            Actually, USDA starling culls have, in some years, been well over a million birds.  You are correct that aerial control wouldn't be very successful.  Generally, starling culls are performed by poisoned baits at roosting sites, although there have been experiments with other methods, and I have no clue what they would have done back in the wilder days of the 1960s.  Not sure what the current chemical control of choice is, although I would suspect it's not 1080.  I can probably scare that up given some time.

            Barring technological innovation in our ability to kill them, it's pretty much a losing battle.  The European starling is one of the most successful invasives in North America and is responsible for the decline of virtually every medium-sized cavity-dwelling bird on the continent (for smaller birds' problems, see: House Sparrow).  That includes favorite natives like the bluebird and the purple martin, the latter of which is now essentially completely dependent on human-maintained nest boxes everywhere east of the Rockies.  Starlings will not only outcompete the native martins for nesting locations, but will attack martin nests, smashing eggs and pecking young to death.

            "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

            by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:45:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  1st they came for the starlings, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee, Joieau

            then the Redwinged Blackbirds, of course RED winged.

            blah blah

            It's all so spooky, one can't help but become a tad delirious.

            Perhaps death known is much more comical than death feared.

            It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

            by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:37:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Um. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Kevskos, War on Error

              Look, I realize that the idea of killing thousand or even millions of birds is distasteful, but you do realize that the European starling is an environmental disaster of our own making (well, actually, of a guy named Eugene Schieffelin's making), right?

              Also, what point are you trying to make about the name of red-winged blackbirds?  They're called that because they have red on their wings (technically, it's a red shoulder and a yellow wing bar, but let's not quibble).

              "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

              by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:04:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ? I love Redwinged Blackbirds (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KenBee

                My father and I, God rest his soul, would watch for them in our back yard.

                I think it is this fond memory, that brought interest to this story, quite frankly.  Dad...he also built a platform to feed the grackles because 'no one else did'.  Grackles will eat ANYTHING.   Dad was awesome.

                It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:26:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Grackles (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KenBee, War on Error

                  I never tried to set up anything specifically for the grackles.  They're remarkably persistent critters, and consistently managed to take from feeders that were far too small for them.  Not that I was trying to exclude them.  The only birds I'd've kicked out of the restaurant if I could, were of course the non-natives.

                  The year the merlin took up winter residence in the tree in my backyard, the grackles were just about the only regular visitors.  I guess they were too large to be intimidated by the falcon 30 feet away.  For some ... strange reason, my bird count was low that year.

                  "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                  by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:03:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Dad actually build a platform for them (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    KenBee

                    where he would put our garbage.

                    Not very aesthetic looking, but that was my Dad.  He had compassion for the Under Bird.

                    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                    by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:08:35 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Starlings, ironically (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      KenBee, War on Error

                      I only used an open platform feeder once, for about half a winter.  I found that more restricted feeding did a somewhat better job of excluding the starling flocks, who weren't patient enough to wait in line when there wasn't an open buffet.  I do remember being concerned about the grackles, because none of my feeders were sized for them, but one of the grackle regulars would hang upside-down to feed from an access point below him and 90 degrees around to the side.  The other regular grackle would fold himself very nearly in half and eat from the little birds' feeder.  And they didn't crowd out my grosbeaks.

                      Plus, seriously, any bird that can calmly eat sunflower seeds while a foot-long falcon watched from the nearby tree has earned some respect.

                      "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                      by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:17:05 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You paint Beautiful pictures w/your words. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        KenBee

                        Is that your foot-long falcon?  Or one of your buffet guests?  It would scare me off, for sure.

                        Thank you very much for helping out with this diary today.  Your additions are great contributions for readers and me.

                        It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                        by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:29:50 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Falcon (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          KenBee, War on Error

                          Sadly, the pictures from back then aren't anywhere that I have ready access to them, but I think I mentioned the falcon ... somewhere else in the thread.  Merlins are a very distinctive migratory falcon also known as pigeon hawks.

                          I can confirm quite a bit of that article's discussion of their hunting style, which involves "tail-chasing" and outmaneuvering smaller birds, catching them in mid-air.  I'll happily note that the one that spent part of a winter outside my house did an excellent job at invasive species management by snacking on the local House Sparrows.

                          Of course, since that article notes that they'll take prey as large as sandpipers or rock pigeons ... perhaps my local grackles were just dumb rather than brave.

                          "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                          by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:44:16 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Hunger makes many dumb. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KenBee

                            And/or fear of hunger.

                            Which can explain why really, really good people bend their principles just to stay employed, speaking to your comment above.

                            It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                            by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:59:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  We Watched A Small Hawk Snatch A Songbird (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KenBee, War on Error

                            The cardinal was under the freestanding porch swing, the sharpshinned hawk was stalking around on the awning looking at it. Finally the cardinal made a break for it. I blinked, so I missed the hawk closing the 20 ft headstart the songbird got, but then it was in the raptors claws and gave one thin cry as the hawk flew away.

                          •  Saw this a couple weeks ago when a nuthatch was (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            War on Error

                            poised motionless on our feeder. I happened to go out & spooked a sparrow or purple finch.

                            Whoosh - hawk a few feet over my head, "squeak! squeak!" from the finch, and off went the hawk.

                            Sad.

                            I love hawks. Luckily I didn't spook the nuthatch, which I'm equally fond of. We've got a nice pair.

                            Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

                            by dadadata on Wed Jan 05, 2011 at 05:45:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Certain poisons would cause internal hemorrhage. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ice Blue, KenBee, lineatus, Joieau

          Example -- teflon toxicosis, caused by inhaling fumes from overheated teflon, kills birds by causing the blood vessels in their lungs to rupture - they drown in their own blood. (This is why we parrot owners by and large don't use teflon cookware. Incidentally, it also causes symptoms in humans like the flu.)

          We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

          by raptavio on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:49:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Blackbird control poison (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, lineatus, War on Error, Joieau

            The USDA licenses only a single poison as an authorized starlicide or for use as a blackbird control with appropriate permit.  That compound is 3-chloro-4-methylbenzenamine, also known as 3-chloro-p-toluidine hydrochloride (CPTH), or DRC-1339.  Its method of action doesn't induce internal hemorrhage or anything that could be remotely confused for trauma.  At least in the Ozark, AR case, initial necropsy reports that included "no organ damage" actually served to eliminate CPTH poisoning as a cause.

            "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

            by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:35:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sad that it's difficult to trust quick reports (0+ / 0-)

              If the USDA did answer the farmers requests, and baited the Redwinged Blackbirds, like they have the starling, then they would have done so against the MBTA.  They can't admit to doing it.  And, in our world of privatized everything, others could have done it, if it was done at all.

              Unless, of course, the crazies are right and the HAARP did it.

              It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

              by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:42:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just to note (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Kevskos, ban nock

                The early-report necropsies have been done by a lab working for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.  If this had been a critical avian management error on the part of the USDA, would a state agency that works primarily with a different part of the federal government anyway (the US Fish and Wildlife Service) have any motivation to cover for the USDA's mistake, or for the illegal actions of third parties?

                Isn't it more reasonable to assume that, in fact, the necropsy results are not consistent with the clearly visible and extraordinarily well-researched signs of CPTH poisoning?

                "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

                by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:16:28 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  I'm having a hard time finding the (4+ / 0-)

          "they were startled by a sudden noise and collectively committed suicide by running into each other and every solid object in sight" explanation all that compelling.

          I guess it could have happened that way, but I think any species that was that sensitive to disruption would have gone extinct long ago.

          •  Of course, no such explanation explanation (0+ / 0-)

            has been proffered by anybody, so that is a fairly safe bet.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

            by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:18:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's funny because that's pretty much precisely (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              what was proposed on NPR this morning by David Goad, Chief of the Wildlife Management Division of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

              Perhaps you should listen.  link

            •  Oh, yes it has. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              Repeatedly in Deep Harm's diary yesterday. Startled by fireworks in small-town Arkansas so they flew into each other and various immovable objects at high speed, including the ground. I figure that since the testing of carcasses started yesterday, and it'll be a week at least before results are known, it's all pure speculation. Even from 'experts' and 'scientists'. Including, of course, self-appointed yet still anonymous 'scientific experts' here on DKos.

              Semi-amazing to me, since I find the mystery quite fascinating. Including today's Louisiana birdfall and the Drum kill on the Arkansas River. The wannabe mind-tyrants keep asserting that it's "entirely natural," yet no one is claiming the deaths aren't entirely natural. Blunt trauma. What we're wondering about is what caused the birds to go crazy or fall from the sky, and the fish to die. Even if it's fireworks in the Arkansas incident, cause of death would still be 'natural' even if it was entirely a human-caused trauma. The fish could be entirely unrelated. Or not, nobody knows. Quite bizarre.

              Makes me wonder what's being hidden.

              Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

              by Joieau on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:13:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Oh thank you. I laughed out loud!!!! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeterHug

            And, of course the birds would have boo boos after falling from the sky.

            Anyone one want to compute bird weight/gravity/impact = degree of bruising?

            It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

            by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:43:36 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If I had to guess at this point I would say (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              that the RW blackbirds were probably poisoned, although not necessarily by the government; and that the fish died in an unrelated incident.

              That is completely a guess - if I were going to speculate further, I would expect that no cause will ever officially be assigned to either of these occurrences.

              •  We are in agreement. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                PeterHug, trueblueliberal

                Whether on purpose w/the likes of DRC-1339 or from an unfortunate, freak but perfect poisonous concoction of the corexit, volcanic/methane gas, and locally spewing crap, the birds have to have been poisoned by something.  Or a HAARP attack (unlikely).

                I don't think Arkansas or LA are bastions of ecologically pristine behaviors.

                Maybe ISSA will get right on this one.

                It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:34:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, concussion is more likely than poison. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  War on Error

                  Birds have a peculiar anatomy wherein their body is full of air-sacs connected to their lungs and they use a muli-pass breathing system. When you tartle RW Blackbirds, they spring into the air. The concussion from the fireworks explosions very likely played havoc with siad sacs and multi-pass breathing function. If it was poisoning, the locals would know and would talk about it.

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

                  by enhydra lutris on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:16:22 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thank you for the avian anatomy lesson (0+ / 0-)

                    however, the residents of both Yakima and New Jersey, used as examples in the diary above, didn't have a clue why birds were dropping like flies into their yards dead as door nails.

                    So, no, the people wouldn't have necessarily know about it.

                    Some people, yes, but not "the people in general"

                    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                    by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 08:54:42 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Crop depredation sufficiently massive as to (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      War on Error

                      allow for the issuance of a permit to take a protected species would be known to the locals. These aren't starlings. (BTW, it is winter, not too many crops in the fields right now in ARK.)

                      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

                      by enhydra lutris on Wed Jan 05, 2011 at 10:46:15 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Every so often in Indianapolis (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error

          pigeons would get the poison bait treatment.  And yes
          the birds would be dropping out of the sky at an alarming rate.  Noise does not kill the birds or else we would have birds dropping out of the sky every 4th of July.

    •  FWIW, here's a link to the Arkansas Birding List (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      George, War on Error

      archive - http://digest.sialia.com/... - there has been a lot of discussion on the site, and a lot of up-to-the minute news.

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:18:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's one (0+ / 0-)

        Date: 1/5/11 4:40 pm
        From: Sandy Berger <fsbirdlady...>
        Subject: dead blackbirds
        A friend of mine just sent me a facebook message and said that 100's of blackbirds were found dead in TN.

        It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

        by War on Error on Thu Jan 06, 2011 at 05:00:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If they accidently killed red-winged blackbirds (4+ / 0-)

    when going for starlings then they screwed up royally.

  •  I read that they didn't find any poison (3+ / 0-)

    in the 17 or so post mortems they had done so far, and that several of the birds showed signs of trauma. It's all very odd! Here's an MSNBC link.

    I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

    by DreamyAJ on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:37:36 PM PST

    •  What about a reference? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, War on Error, renzo capetti

      You say you read that "they didn't find poison", but the link you provided was for a video that made no reference to any toxicology reports.

      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony

      by JoeEngineer on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:48:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The title of the article is: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error

        No poison found in birds that fell on town.

        I am not claiming that this is correct; just pointing out that I read it. It was one of several links I found on Google. I'm sure you could find several as well.

        The relevant part of the article regarding poison is:

        Their stomachs were empty, which rules out poison, Dr. George Badley said, and they died in midair, not on impact with the ground.

        I'm not sure why that entirely rules it out as I'm no expert on poison or birds. It seems to me that non-food sources of poison could exist.

        I didn't do it. Nobody saw me. You can't prove anything. --Bart Simpson

        by DreamyAJ on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 08:10:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hi. (0+ / 0-)

          Do you know how to use the link function.  I just discovered it a couple of months ago.

          When you press reply, look below and you will see the 'link' button.

          First, high light a phrase or title that you found when researching, press link, then copy the http address from your source, paste into the top box of the two that you will see when you press link, paste, then press add.

          Using this makes it easy for readers to link to your research source.

          Peace.

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 08:58:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Re: trauma (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error

      I keep hearing trauma as an explanation, but if they fell from the sky and hit the ground I think this would be the cause of trauma, wouldn't it?

  •  What the news videoed were red-wing (4+ / 0-)

    blackbirds.  Blackbirds do flock, but the starlings aren't similar to red-wings in their habits.

    The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

    by hannah on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:37:56 PM PST

  •  Starlings are an invasive foreign species. (8+ / 0-)

    Their presence here negatively affects populations of native birds.

    •  Starlings are blamed for the decline of bluebirds (6+ / 0-)

      They're an non-native invasive species, first introduced to the U.S. because they're mentioned in Shakespeare.

      Shakespeare to Blame for Introduction of European Starlings to U.S.

      They're like kudzu or those jumping fish in the Mississippi.

      "One man's Mede is another man's Persian." - George S. Kaufman

      by Dbug on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:51:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The blackbirds are pests in AK and LA (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, renzo capetti

        Especially RR Blackbirds.

        You can read the short report here:

        http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/...

        In 1980, Congress responded to complaints of migratory bird damage to grain crops, principally rice,
        with added funding for enhanced Animal Damage Control (ADC) programs in Arkansas and Louisiana.

        This resulted in the establishment of an office in Stuttgart, Arkansas and a similar office in Crowley, Louisiana.

        Enabling legislation specifically directs the principal focus to be on rice/blackbird conflicts.

        This paper will present a review of the problems addressed in Arkansas, techniques utilized and the author's assessment of their efficacy and acceptability.
        Methods

        Complaints of bird damage in Arkansas typically involved blackbird damage to milk or dough stage rice or grain sorghum.

        It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

        by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:03:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love birds. I hate starlings. I have no (10+ / 0-)

    problem with efforts to control invasive species that damage crops and crowd out other species of birds.

    Now if they could only do something about that damned Chinese Marmorated Stink Bug.  

    If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 01:52:59 PM PST

    •  Really. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      On twitter, search 'stink bugs'.  They are still terrorizing people.,

      But the migratory red winged black bird has been a migratory pest in AK and LA for decades.

      Check out the report info I found and added a bit ago.

      Why isn't the media including this possibillity in their coverage?

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:08:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hated starlings in the US (9+ / 0-)

    They messed up everything around and were horrible. Now that I live where they are a native species, they are lovely. They flock out on the Somerset levels in winter and harm no one. In the summer a few nest under my eaves and remind me of the mockingbirds that I miss so much.
    Whoever brought them to the States was a fool, but in their own time and place, they are a spectacular part of the landscape, especially in the bleak winter.

    If nothing is very different from you, what is a little different from you is very different from you. Ursula K. Le Guin

    by northsylvania on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:06:56 PM PST

  •  500 red-winged blackbirds dead in LA (6+ / 0-)

    Reports the Baton Rouge Advocate:

    State biologists are trying to determine what led to the deaths of the estimated 500 red-winged blackbirds and starlings on La. 1 just down the road from Pointe Coupee Central High School.

    The discovery of the dead birds — some of which were lying face down, clumped in groups, while others were face up with their wings outstretched and rigid legs pointing upward — comes just three days after more than 3,000 blackbirds rained down from the sky in Beebe, Ark. ...

    In Louisiana, biologists with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spent part of the day Monday scooping up some of the birds in Pointe Coupee Parish to be sent for testing at labs in Georgia and Wisconsin.

    http://news.yahoo.com/...

  •  Andt that doesn't even start to cover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, renzo capetti

    chickens and turkeys . . .

  •  When did blackbirds (0+ / 0-)

    start overwintering in Alaska?  AGW must be tremendously worse than I imagined.

    •  Migration failure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue, lineatus

      It's actually been an increasing problem, where warm temperatures persist in southern Alaska for too long, and the migration drive is suppressed.  There have been a number of substantial losses of migratory species in recent years, because they left too late, and died to cold weather combined with a lack of the expected food sources in migration.

      On the other hand, several species seem to be managing to successfully fully overwinter.  It's way too soon to know the long term population impacts of these changes, though.

      "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

      by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 02:58:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  AK = Alaska; AR = Arkansas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue, War on Error

        Global climate change may be affecting Alaska's migratory birds, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't warmed up enough for rice agriculture. I assume the diarist means AR (Arkansas), instead of AK (Alaska).

      •  Maybe I really did see a turkey vulture (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lineatus, War on Error

        last week in the north woods of Wisconsin.

        One one of the marks of spring around here is the return of the buzzards.  They normally show up around April 1.  I've lived up here for about a decade and I don't recall ever seeing one hanging around as late as Thanksgiving.

        Don't anyone tell me it was a damn crow.  This bird had at least a five foot wingspan.  The only other think I've ever seen around here that even remotely resembles what I saw is a wild turkey and they can't fly that well.

        Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

        by Ice Blue on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:25:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm still thinking Golden Eagle is a possibility (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ice Blue, War on Error

          They do winter in the western parts of Wisconsin, and in flight they look much more like a TV than like a bald eagle.  But TV overwintering is also a distinct possibility.  (dunno if you ever saw my followup message on that)

          They only call it Class War when we fight back.

          by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:45:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't worry, I did. I'm not sure how well a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            War on Error

            golden would get along with the neighborhood baldies, though.  And I was almost in town when I saw him.

            Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

            by Ice Blue on Wed Jan 05, 2011 at 10:08:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  D-d-d-d-d-d (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error

      I just got that song in my head.

    •  probably around the same time canadian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error

      geese started wintering in vermont

      To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

      by Tanya on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 04:13:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This country's officially evil. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    Nuke us, please.

    The Constitution is a suicide pact.

    by Bush Bites on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:19:30 PM PST

  •  I know a little bit about birds being killed as (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luckylizard, War on Error

    ag pests.  Here in California, it's mostly for fruit crops - tree fruits and wine grapes.  (One more reason why you want to buy wines from wineries that practice integrated pest management - they don't do this.)

    As I understand it, the growers trap the birds in large cage traps that hold hundreds of birds - the size of a garden shed or larger - and then the birds are killed by carbon monoxide.  Basically, the cage is enclosed with a tarp and they connect it to a vehicle exhaust.  Not pretty, but effective and doesn't create the risk of secondary poisoning in the environment.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:28:03 PM PST

    •  It's AK and LA, (0+ / 0-)

      on the cheap, make sure privatized chemicals are supported, and the environment will take care of itself, always has.

      So, without mass murdering species, humans have lost this struggle with nature.  

      Rumor has it Cuba is almost all organic these days.  Wonder what they do about the birds, invite them in for some yerba matte?

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:52:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The real irony is that bird seed growers killed a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tanya, War on Error

    lot of songbirds.  Commercial sunflower growers were, for years, some of the biggest killers of blackbirds and others.  I think many of them have stopped under pressure from buyers of bird seed.  It's still a good idea to know the source of your feed, though.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:30:54 PM PST

  •  Just another reason to take vertical urban... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glitterscale, War on Error

    ...agriculture very seriously.

    Yes, I know we're many decades from having a meaningful amount of crops like rice and wheat grown and harvested in purpose built towers in our inner cities, but we gotta start somewhere and sometime.

    The so-called "rising tide" is lifting only yachts.

    by Egalitare on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:31:08 PM PST

  •   Numerous Dead Raptors In South Carolina (5+ / 0-)

    Driving south on I95 through SC a week before Xmas I saw about 14 dead raptors along the interstate. There seemed to be several species, several were large raptors like red tailed hawks, but there were also smaller ones. All of them were well off the road, and many of them had the flight feathers of one wing spread and stretched upwards so they were very visible and made it clear they were hawks. This seemed to be a strange pose for dead birds. Towards the middle of the state I was seeing dead hawk every couple minutes. Not crows, not vultures.

    I wondered if there were that many raptors along the highway if there weren't thousands more in the woods.

    Now I'm wondering if these raptors didn't eat some poisoned balckbirds/grackels/cowbirds that may have been acting impaired.

    •  I'll bet that a number of them were Barn Owls (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, luckylizard, War on Error

      They have a terrible habit of hunting the margins of highways and getting nailed by passing vehicles.  I remember driving one stretch of I-5 in California (near Winters) and passing five barn owl carcasses in a single mile.  

      Among the larger birds we band at GGRO, vehicle collision is one of the main causes of mortality.  Highway medians and edges are often kept mowed pretty low, which makes it easier to see prey moving.  The birds focus on the rodent and do not pay attention to the oncoming traffic as they're making their dive.  They will also feed on road kill if they're hungry enough and that puts them at risk for getting hit.  (If you want to do a favor for predators and scavengers, move road kill off the road.)

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:52:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Highways (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lineatus

      While there's really no way to know for certain, highways kill.  Raptors, as well as scavengers like vultures, are actually surprisingly likely to be struck, because they will take prey (or feed on roadkill) on the flat, easily visible roadway expanse and then fatally underestimate the amount of time needed to clear out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.

      "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

      by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 03:55:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just want to thank you for your informed, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lineatus

        informative and even tempered contributions to this discussion.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:07:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're most welcome (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          accumbens, lineatus, War on Error

          Science reporting is a subject that I feel passionately about.  The fact that it is a broad category at which our media regularly and consistent fails completely is an unending source of frustration and disappointment.

          I've stayed out of the DK4 threads because I'm allergic to meta, but the fact that the new site seems to be a place where responsible science blogging will have a role is something I look forward to very much.  My diary series inspiration is dsteffen's "How Regulation Came to Be", and I hope that I can live up to the high standards that series has set, because I believe that a real understanding of science issues -- and how to understand them when you encounter them -- is critical for the progressive movement.  

          "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

          by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:54:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree that science reporting usually stinks. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lineatus, War on Error

            For one, it's all about "breakthroughs," which makes the rare breakthrough impossible to spot.  I once asked science writers at a major paper if they ever follow up on their articles about new discoveries.  They looked at me kind of blank and said that wasn't news.  If they bothered, they'd see how many of their breakthroughs fizzle out.

            Most science writers, like most journalists, just use the press releases, which are often overblown.  Those releases are usually from academic/research institutions who need to make news to please supporters and draw attention for "sales" purposes.

            I haven't even looked at DK4 yet, but look forward to the science blogging.

            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

            by accumbens on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 06:11:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The "breaking" nonsense (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              accumbens

              It's really even worse than just the media's soundbite obsession.  Because BREAKING! gets people noticed, and people who get noticed get grants, so there's a lot of pressure to do science-by-press-conference.  The results are not pretty.

              That whole arsenic bacteria thing was interesting, but they rushed the paper, and they rushed the announcement, in order to make a big hoopla over it.  As a result, the claims got overhyped and overblown, and the researchers skipped some steps in their analysis that they really shouldn't have skipped.  It's annoying.

              Dealing with the plague of BREAKING!, both regarding what the media report and what it is doing to science in general is already on my list for one of the early DK4 postings.

              "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

              by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:37:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I will look for you in our Brave New Site (0+ / 0-)

            Not familiar with your writing previously, but rational science writing is something I always appreciate.

            They only call it Class War when we fight back.

            by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 06:36:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Curious what you think of this information (0+ / 0-)

            I ran into.  Could barium, aluminum, and/or strontium toxicity spike enough to cause a bird die off?  And, if so, could other species be unaffected?

            This is a report from an Arkansas TV station a while back:

            And this report from a couple of geoengineers:

            I know this is "out there" but the lab reports are empirical evidence, unless they were tampered with, which makes no sense for average concerned people to do.

            It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

            by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:08:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Honestly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              I think these videos are a perfect example of taking reasonable science and an actual problem, then combining them with a load of nonsense to support a plainly falsifiable conspiracy theory.

              I'm not going to spend a lot of time deconstructing the points they are trying to make.  Yes, there have been proposed geoengineering projects with air delivery.  Yes, technically, we've done something like that with cloud seeding.  No, jet aircraft are absolutely positively not spraying chemicals behind them, and anything that talks about chemtrails is 99%+ likely to be disinformative.  On the other hand, yes, there are reasons to think that contrails have a non-neutral environmental impact.

              As for aluminum oxide contamination, it's an immensely commonly used compound.  It's used in some forms of chemical synthesis, in optics, as an abrasive, and as an inert filler in a variety of things (such as sunscreen).  It's also widely naturally occurring, where it is known as corundum.  Most people aren't familiar with it under that name, but pretty much everyone knows about high-quality corundum crystals, colored by various natural impurities.  We call them rubies and sapphires.

              "We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing."

              by Serpents Choice on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:47:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  All Birds Were Well Off The Road (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error

        FWIW, none of them were obvious road kill, most of them were off to the edge of the shoulder or into the grass.

        I thought it was interesting that the article about poisoning mentioned the wings stretchedut.

        •  They often bounce off the vehicles, and if (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error

          they are injured, they may struggle a little distance before they die.  I think it's safe to say most dead hawks and owls near a road were killed by vehicles - or by electrocution on the power lines that run next to the roads (the other major cause of mortality for larger hawks that we band).

          They only call it Class War when we fight back.

          by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 06:34:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well Gosh Darn It (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lineatus, War on Error

            Next time I'll collect a trash bag of dead raptors and put the kibosh on any ambiguity. Where do I deliver them?

            •  To give you a serious answer - if you ever find a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bernardpliers

              dead bird in good, fresh condition and you don't mind holding onto it long enough to deliver it, many natural history museums or institutions of higher learning with specimen collections would really appreciate them.  Just remember to note the date and the location where it was found, and any other information that might be useful.  If you can't take it within a day or so, it's best to freeze it.

              In the old days, they used to just go shoot all of them that they needed or wanted.  Now they do very little collecting, especially of common species.  However, they still appreciate being able to add specimens to document plumage, morphological differences, etc.  I imagine it will become even more important as populations shift due to climate change.  It might not seem like a big deal now to bring 'em a robin or a jay, but a hundred years from now they might be looking back on those skins as documentation for when the southern birds began moving north.

              The birds I've brought to Cal Academy and other organizations have mostly been roadkills, but a few were birds that hit the window at my office.

              They only call it Class War when we fight back.

              by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 08:22:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And to give you a second serious answer (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bernardpliers

              If you think that the birds may have been killed by pesticides or other chemicals (say, if you find a cluster of them), you can take them to Fish & Wildlife and ask to have them tested.  I'd go for F&W over the USDA, personally.

              They only call it Class War when we fight back.

              by lineatus on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 08:25:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  The same thing happened to the frogs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bernardpliers, War on Error

    a couple of years ago.  Die-offs by the tens of thousands.  The feds became interested and launched an investigation.  After several weeks of intensive study, the conclusion came back:  THEY CROAKED.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights do make a left.

    by Simian on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 05:54:34 PM PST

  •  Wonder how all of the RWBB arranged to die in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    such close proximity to one another.

    •  This the one question that I keep asking (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah

      A one-square mile area.

      Like the two starling stories above, it is possible that this was their migration destination/roost, and, if it was a DRC-1339 feeding/poisoning event, it would have been possible to watch the flock to see where they tended to feed, and spread the poison in that area.

      Saying the birds all fell from flight is impossible to prove, especially in light of the fact that no one is reporting having seen the birds drop.

      They found them in the morning.

      Here's a report of ducks that died in Stuttgart, Ak from a hail storm:
      http://www.jstor.org/...

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 09:18:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site