When the weather changes…
Mass migration of birds takes place & in a fashion that would rival the imagination?
Of even the deliciously darkest sort!
[via Daily Mail] When the sky almost appears black because of a massive flock of birds, many would fear an impending natural disaster or think it was a sign of the apocalypse.
Residents of Florence, Alabama know better.
Reminiscent of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds, this picture shows a northern Alabama highway overtaken by a massive flock of blackbirds on Wednesday. While it may look like a Hollywood production to outsiders, locals weren’t surprised.
- Getting out of the cold: Blackbirds in northern Alabama tend to fly in massive flocks right when the temperatures drop in the area
The blackbirds regularly move in large flocks when the weather gets colder in the late fall, sometimes taking flight in groups as large as 5,000 birds.
With their seasonal precision, the birds almost serve as a natural calendar for observers as they have come to expect massive movement when the temperatures drop. While the photo makes the event seem mystifyingly beautiful, residents are less impressed because of the repercussions of the birds movements.
The director of the local animal control center has some tried and true tips for residents who are bothered by the birds loud squawking.
- Terror: Tippi Hedren starred in the 1963 classic that tells of how a flock of birds attack humans in a California town for no apparent reason, created by the master of suspense director Alfred Hitchcock (right)
‘We tell people who call about blackbirds to get out their pots and pans and start banging them together outside when the birds are starting to roost,’ director Tommy Morson told local newspaper the Times Daily.
‘The kids love getting to make that much noise, and it will scare the birds away,’ he continued.
Members of the animal control department of a neighboring district take a slightly more aggressive tact when dealing with the unwanted visitors.
The Florence-Lauderdale Animal Control unit uses blank guns, electronic noisemakers and propane cannons to spook the blackbirds. [Read More]
But this does leave to wonder…
If bird species have indeed become divided?
When it comes to the places they choose to reside for the winter…
Once the migration begins?
[via io9] Moving to the city could split birds into separate species
It’s a well-worn cliche that moving to the big city after a lifetime of country-living can change you forever. That might actually be literally true for blackbirds, as moving to the city has begun to split their species in two.
Blackbirds are found throughout northern Europe, and they began moving into cities in the 1930s. Researchers at the University of Sheffield recently analyzed 168 blackbirds found in cities from Spain to Estonia covering a stretch of Europe over 1,700 miles long. By studying the hydrogen isotopes found on the birds’ beak and feathers, the researchers can deduce where in the world the different birds have eaten.
Figuring that last part out is crucial, because then the researchers can determine whether the birds have migrated. As a general rule, blackbirds will fly south to the winter, leaving the cold of northern Europe for the Mediterranean, with some flying as far as northern Africa. But the urban birds consistently flew shorter distances than their rural counterparts, and many of the northern city birds didn’t migrate at all.
It’s not too hard to figure out why this might be. Cities tend to be warmer in the winter than the country, and there’s way more food for the blackbirds to scavenge in the cities than there are in rural climates. In just a few generations, these birds have gone from migratory to sedentary, and that has already had a quantifiable difference on the genetics of the rural and urban populations.
The non-migratory birds might also start breeding sooner, and given enough time the two populations could become so different that they split into different species. All things considered, moving to the city is way more serious than I thought. [Read More]
Do the country birds prefer winter lodging in the county, while city birds prefer winter lodging in the city, or…
Do they all say screw it and move to Miami!
Not that big of a stretch, after all…
Heck, WE humans do it, why not birds?!