Birds are the single most populous species on earth. There are literally billions of them inhabiting every inch of our world. Because of this, scientists call them an indicator species.
“Birds are excellent indicators because we know so much about their biology and life histories. Birds are found almost everywhere in the world and in almost every habitat. They eat a variety of foods and have a broad range of niche requirements,” according to Dr. Roger Lederer, who is a retired professor of Biological Sciences at CSU, and has been studying birds for more than 40 years.
Since birds are fairly high up on the food chain, changes in the environment are rapidly reflected in birds.
The recent sudden death of 5,000 blackbirds in Beebe, Arkansas, and more than 500 dead birds of the same species a few days later in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, plus additional bird deaths in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, raise questions about what the areas have in common and why all the birds suddenly died within days of each other.
Beebe, Arkansas and Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana are just 381 miles apart; a virtual stone’s throw for most birds. A map of the Southeastern United States shows that you can draw almost a straight line between the two towns. If you add the Kentucky location, another 781 miles away, the line only takes only a slight turn to the Northeast.
Geographically, the areas have variations topography and temperature, but all are considered temperate with seasonal changes, and ample variations in habitat for bird life to thrive. What they also have is common is weather influence from the Gulf of Mexico. Many storms that originate in the Gulf make their way inland, as far north as New York on occasion.
While some may consider it an unfounded speculation, one must consider the long term effects of the massive about of chemicals used in the Gulf oil spill as a possible cause for the bird deaths. Enough time has elapsed since the April 20, 2010 disaster to allow the chemicals to work their way through the environment.
During the height of the oil spill disaster, nearly 2 million gallons of Corexit was poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Corexit goes through a molecular change when it comes into contact with warm water; it changes from a liquid to a gas and evaporates into clouds. Corexit is toxic at only 2.61 PPM.
“Corexit is one of the most environmentally enduring, toxic chemical dispersants ever created to battle an oil spill.” Furthermore, “A report prepared for President Medvedev by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources warned that the BP oil spill would be the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history, threatening the entire eastern half of the North American continent.”
The Russian study warned of years of toxic oil rain, resulting in profound changes in the ecosystem.
Could nine months of toxic oil rain have somehow concentrated in these two areas, causing the death of the birds, and more than 100,000 fish in the same area at the same time? Could the birds have ingested contaminated prey?
Chemically transformed Corexit may have nothing to do with the death of 5,500 birds, 381 miles apart, within 24 hour of each other. It may have nothing to do with the death of 100,000 fish in the Arkansas River. But then again, it might. The implications of a molecular invasion of Corexit in the Southeastern United States on a microbiological level are unimaginable, both ecologically and financially.
Since no one has ever used such a massive amount of toxic chemical dispersant on an oil spill before, there is no data to use as a guide for long term environmental damage.
The question is, if there were scientific evidence to support widespread damage from the BP oil spill, and that it was the cause of thousands of fish and birds suddenly dropping dead, would anyone admit it?