By Kelly Bjornstad
Last year on February 7th, 2021, hundreds of birds in Cuauhtémoc, a city in Chihuahua, Mexico, fell from the sky and crashed into the ground. Surveillance footage is resurfacing and circulating around social media once again. Which means more questions are being raised; people are questioning what exactly caused such a large swarm to change behavior so quickly. Speculations and conspiracies have been brought up enough that the video has caught momentum amongst the professionals, and they have come up with a couple causes that could be responsible for the birds sporadic change in direction.
Civilians went to some of the most obvious and sensible options. Weighing the probability that there may have been a leak in some sort of poisonous gas. Maybe there was some sort of electromagnetic field coming from utility machines in the area. Or maybe, the birds were electrocuted from the nearby power line. But Harvard ornithologist, Scott V. Edwards, and Postdoctoral researcher, Flavia Termignoni Garcia, evaluated the movement of the birds; it was concluded that if any of these were the case, the movement of the birds would have been completely different. Saying; “If they had inhaled poisonous gasses or been shocked, the physics of their movement would have been entirely different.” Which, pretty much shuts down the idea of any sort of poisonous leak, as other wildlife in the area would have also been affected.
Instead, experts conclude that a much more realistic cause for the event was in defense of a predator or mistake in flight pattern. The type of birds seen in the video are yellow headed blackbirds, which are migratory birds that travel in rather irregular groups in their day-to-day relocation. And in swarms of migrating birds, it is common for there to be an assigned leader that the flock follows. This means that a simple skittish movement or miscalculation could result in the rest of the population following in pursuit. Writers from Birdgap explain that larger groups of birds follow a couple simple rules while flying. One being to avoid any collisions with neighboring birds. The second to fly in the same average direction as neighboring birds, and the third being to fly towards the average position of neighboring birds. They added “By following these three simple rules, giant flocks can move at high speeds, changing direction quickly in response to attacks.” This makes for a pretty convincing argument that the birds were simply confused, following a main movement that was taken for no apparent reason.
And this behavior isn’t unheard of either. In September of 2021, hundreds of migrating songbirds crashed into a skyscraper in New York City. This is said to have been the result of distracting reflections in the glass of the skyscrapers and stormy skies. Which disoriented the birds enough to where, as CBC News reports, around 77 birds suffered injuries whose conditions were salvageable enough to be taken to a rehabilitation center. Which is oddly similar to the nearly 100 birds lost in the unexpected crash footage from Chihuahua, Mexico.
Despite these events happening nearly a year and a half ago, the internet refuses to let these videos go unnoticed. They seem to reappear and circulate periodically, as people search for answers to give explanation to such a bizarre event.
Link to footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHRAKowr67s