Researchers find answers in mysterious N.M. bird deaths

Researchers believe starvation and weather led to the deaths of large numbers of bird deaths in New Mexico, including western wood pewees (Contopus sordidulus). Peter Pearsall/USFWS

When untold numbers of warblers, swallows and other birds turned up dead in New Mexico last August, biologists were at a loss to understand why. After an examination of hundreds of bird specimens at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin, researchers believe they have an answer.

Nearly all the birds they examined were severely emaciated as they migrated into New Mexico, researchers found, and when an unusual storm hit, the birds became disoriented and flew into buildings and objects. Some died from exposure to the cold weather, while others were killed by predators or were hit by vehicles.

Read more from the Associated Press here.