Mass Death of Blackbirds


In The News
Image: Mass Death of Birds (2011) SIRS Discover

NATURE: An Environmental Whodunit.

By: JAMES GORMAN. New York Times, 1/9/2011, p2

Challenge & Research Questions:

Roughly 5,000 dead and dying blackbirds fell from the Arkansas sky on New Year’s Eve. That mysterious event was followed by the appearance of about 500 dead birds along a Louisiana highway and additional bird-falls in Kentucky, Sweden and Italy.

The unusual series of macabre avian incidents has many people wondering: Is there something in the air, or is this nothing to get our feathers ruffled over?

Challenge:

What is the estimate of the population of red-winged blackbirds (the variety that fell over Arkansas) at the start of the nesting season every year in May?

a. 20 million
b. 100 million
c. 150 million
d. 600 million

ChallengeQuest:

What does the cartoon suggest about the bird deaths that occurred in late 2010? Use two facts from the related article to support your answer.

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