Friday, December 16, 2011

1500 Eared Grebes crash into
WalMart Parking Lot

And it wasn't even Black Friday.

It happened in southern Utah earlier this week.

They're just everywhere. That's how a wildlife manager describes the mass casualties of Eared Grebes that crash landed in southern Utah on Monday night. Some 1,500 grebes died, another 3,000 have been rescued. The small water birds were migrating and apparently mistook a Walmart parking lot, highways and football fields covered with snow for bodies of water.

An ornithologist (Kevin McGowan. He's at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York) discusses the whys and wherefores on NPR.

Kevin McGowan:
Well, these guys are flying at night. So, they are up in the air and are usually trying to figure out which way is up, by the fact that the sky is lighter than the ground. It sounds like there was bad weather that they ran into and were trying to get down out of the air.

Then they look down and they see this wide-open, dark area that looks like it's got - it's shiny, it is reflecting the sky. Hey, that's got to be a lake. And that's exactly what they're looking for. So they went down to land in a nice glide at 40 miles an hour and expecting the waters to part in front of them and it was asphalt. That's not so good if you're a grebe.

Of course, such things have happened in the past. Birds crash into frozen lakes and rivers often. But there are plenty of eyes about now and there were not then.

More at the link above or ">here.

1 comment:

threecollie said...

Wasn't that the saddest thing? I have never even seen a grebe and thousands of them die like that. I know it happens but it seems like such a waste of wonder.