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Thread subject: 500 Birds dead....This time Louisiana!
Name Date Message
Celeste 01/04/11 01:42 pm What is happening?

Bird death again
martyc35 01/04/11 02:35 pm I found this description of what happens when RWBBs are disturbed while roosting: short version, total panic:
"Enemies.--Probably more redwings have been killed by man than by any other one agency, for when they swoop down in clouds on the corn fields, grain fields, and rice plantations they have been slaughtered in multitudes to protect the crops. Wilson (1932) gives the following graphic account of how they used to be killed in great numbers, while roosting at night in the marshes. In some places--

when the reeds become dry, advantage is taken of this circumstance, to destroy these birds, by a party secretly approaching the place, under cover of a dark night, setting fire to the reeds in several places at once, which being soon enveloped in one general flame, the uproar among the Blackbirds becomes universal; and, by the light of the conflagration, they are shot down in vast numbers, while hovering and screaming over the place. Sometimes straw is used for the same purpose, being previously strewed near the reeds and alder bushes, where they are known to roost, which being instantly set on fire, the consternation and havoc is prodigious; and the party return by day to pick up the slaughtered game.

Before it was made illegal to sell game in the market, redwings were killed in large numbers in the fall and sold in markets as "reed-birds"; when fattened on grain or rice, their little bodies served as delicious morsels for the gourmand's table; few could distinguish them from bobolinks." Source:
Celeste 01/04/11 03:24 pm Thanks Marty. Good find.

(off topic)--If your interested there's an interesting book called "An Exhilaration of Wings" The Literature of Birdwatching. It's a selection of Bird Watching written by 75 writers, including John Muir, Audubon, Susan Fenimore Cooper and lesser known writers including amateurs. Some of the observations that struck me was when feathers were very much in vogue for women's hats..the observer felt that those birds who survived, seem to mourn for those who were shot and killed. There's even an observation written in 1764 of the osprey, when it was believed that the osprey had a small bag on it's body filled with oil which they called bait. It was "certain to observers back then" that a drop of the oil collected from this bird is an irresistible lure for all sorts of fish and insured the angler great success"
martyc35 01/04/11 05:36 pm Thanks, Celeste. I guess it wasn't enough to marvel back in the day on how skilled the osprey were at fishing; people had to grant them magical, fish-attracting powers, for how else could they accomplish such feats? Another slant on how our brains have evolved to fool us.
Shelley 01/04/11 06:45 pm Even more off-topic: Celeste, let me guess how you happen to have found an article in one of Canada's national newspapers.... ;-)
Celeste 01/04/11 07:27 pm Frank has me well trained:-)
Shelley 01/04/11 08:15 pm ;-) I can tell! ;-)

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