Jan 5, 2011 10:49 PM by Maddie Garrett

Geological Scientist Discusses Bird Deaths

South Louisiana can be added to the growing list of places to report massive bird deaths, but what does it all mean? KATC's Maddie Garrett sat down with geological scientists to find the answers.

Dr. Wylie Barrow is the expert when it comes to migratory birds in South Louisiana. And he says this isn't the first time massive numbers of birds have died in our area.

"Probably one of the country's largest known mass mortality events also occurred right here in Louisiana on the shores of Grand Isle," said Barrow.

He's talking about a tornado that ripped through the Island in April 1993. Roughly 40,000 different kinds of birds died due the severe weather. The difference, these recent bird deaths in Louisiana appear to be caused by power lines. And the Arkansas bird deaths look to be because of fireworks. All the birds falling from the sky don't seem to be related -- just strange.

"That is interesting, but it could be just coincidental," said Barrow.

Let's put it into perspective: Barrow says hundreds of millions of birds die every year in the U.S. from hitting buildings, wind turbines, power lines and other man made causes.

"I think people need to be aware that we are contributing to this mortality and a lot of it you never see the evidence for," he said.

One thing Barrow and other scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey Center in Lafayette are trying to do is track the movements of birds better by using doppler radar systems.

"Hopefully the work that we're doing here will better inform, you know, bird movements and behavior related to these structures so we can re-engineer some of them so that these mortalities don't happen as often," said Barrow.

Barrow says these massive bird deaths aren't that uncommon, just usually over looked. Which is something he wants to change.



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