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Dead Birds Falling

Photograph by Jamie Zarza http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/crows-northern-california/

Photograph by Jamie Zarza
http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/crows-northern-california/

I heard on CBC Radio this week that dozens of paralyzed crows and ravens had been found in the northeastern corner of BC, near Dawson Creek. What was curious about the report was the focus on the wing and leg fractures. Veterinarians, who had ruled out West Nile virus, said younger birds often fall out of nests, but it was unusual to see fractures in older birds. My line of thinking went more like, hmmm, if you’re suddenly paralyzed mid-air, you fall, you break bones. As for the paralysis, my thinking would go much more in the direction of pesticides. Some of the nastier ones are known to mess with the central nervous system and have already been linked with Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis (MS). I’d also be looking to other environmental impacts, like has there been a fire in the area recently (translation: forest doused with toxic fire retardant)? The story gets even more curious when you google “dead birds falling” to discover more such events in the last couple years, including 5000 black birds in Arkansas and five dozen falling from Winnipeg’s skies just last week. Looks like “murder of crows” now has a very literal connotation.

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