7,500 songbirds flew into a giant flame and died

warbler bird being weighed photo
© Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

So, last week approximately 7,500 songbirds flew into a giant flame and died.

The CBC reports:

About 7,500 songbirds, possibly including some endangered species, were killed while flying over a gas plant in Saint John late last week, officials have confirmed.

It appears the migrating birds flew into the gas flare at Canaport LNG between Friday night and Saturday morning, said Fraser Forsythe, the company's health, safety, security and environmental manager.

The birds were drawn to the flame like moths, an extremely unusual event, according to Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum.

"They would circle in around that and of course with a large flame like that and high temperatures, they wouldn't need to get terribly close to become singed or burned."

CBC goes on to report that some of the birds may have been endangered species.


Naturally, the CBC reports that employees at the plant were in tears upon finding the piles of dead birds in the morning. That's pretty much what you do when you find giant piles of dead birds, right? But helpfully, the zoologist quoted above reminds us that WAY more birds die in the United States every year, so... yeah, um...quit crying?

McAlpine, said it's important to put the incident in perspective, noting an estimated one billion birds in the U.S. are killed every year from human causes.

"Although this is certainly a tragic event and it's shocking to see 7,500 dead birds, it’s a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of birds that are killed from human actions every year," said McAlpine.

I know he means well and is statistically correct, but really?

Minor spoiler warning: This reminded me of that awkward scene in the hit show Breaking Bad when Walt tells the school children that they shouldn't be too upset about the deadly plane crash that occurred in their town because it was only the 50th worst air disaster of all time. Actually tied for 50th!

In other words, yeah, 7,500 birds died, some of which are critically endangered, but cats and buildings kill way more. So don't be mad at the natural gas plant. Cats and buildings are your real enemy!

What's frustrating about this is that natural gas flaring is not always necessary and is a huge waste of money, fuel and contributes to global warming.

According to 2011 numbers, annually natural gas flaring wastes 5% of all the natural gas produced in the world, emitting 400 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere -- the equivalent of 77 million cars -- and now has been shown to have the potential to kill migrating songbirds.

Yes, cats and buildings kill many birds over the course of the year. But maybe this could be an opportunity to highlight the wastefulness and destructiveness of gas flaring and push for some tighter regulations and improved technology to reduce the practice as much as possible.


IMAGE: RYE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: A warbler is weighed at a ringing hut on a private reserve in East Sussex on August 21, 2013 in Rye, United Kingdom. The BTO are currently in the process of recording migrating hirundines and other birds at the reserve.

7,500 songbirds flew into a giant flame and died
So, last week approximately 7,500 songbirds flew into a giant flame and died. Maybe this is a good time to talk about the wastefulness and damage caused by natural gas flaring?

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