An alarming number of birds have been dropping dead in New Mexico, leading to speculation that this unusual phenomenon may have been caused by recent wildfires in California and other states along the West Coast.
"It appears to be an unprecedented and a very large number," Martha Desmond, professor at New Mexico State University's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, told Albuquerque NBC-affiliate KOB. "It's very difficult to put a finger on exactly what that number is, but I can say it would easily be in the hundreds of thousands of birds."
On Sunday, journalist Austin Fisher shared a video of his discovery of more than 200 dead migratory birds while on a hike in New Mexico.
Residents and biologists reportedly saw birds displaying bizarre behavior prior to their death, such as those that can normally be found in shrubs and trees were instead on the ground looking for food and chasing bugs. Many were getting struck by cars due to being strangely lethargic and unresponsive.
Desmond is working a number of other wildlife experts to determine the possible cause of this sudden uptick in deaths. While the wildfires are considered to be a possible reason, recent droughts and a cold front that swept through the state are also being looked into. "It can be related to some of the drought conditions. It could also be related to the fires in the west," Desmond said. "There may have been some damage to these birds in their lungs. It may have pushed them out early when they weren't ready to migrate."