The organizers in New Mexico had not anticipated that the second webinar, which would help us understand “why” and “how” to assess the peril of nonhuman relatives with whom we share this Earth and its significance — would be taking place in the midst of a mass bird die-off in New Mexico and across the U.S. Southwest. The die-off has been reported in New Mexico newspapers, including Las Cruces Sun News and the Santa Fe New Mexican, and in national and international press and media, including The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, and the BBC.
Ornithologists at UNM are currently studying the die-off. UNM PhD student Jenna McCullough writes in an article published in the American Birding Association website: “There is, I believe, a much more plausible reason for large numbers of birds to die during migration: lack of food. The 55–60ºF temperature swing observed in New Mexico combined with hurricane force winds and with wet snow very likely caused hypothermia in some birds, especially juveniles. Furthermore, cold temperatures also affect the food supply for insectivores, as insects (which become dormant or dead) are then covered by snow. Certainly, they are not flying through the air, as swallows and pewees need.”