As temperatures begin to climb back across the western part of Colorado, with a high temperature of 87 on Monday in Grand Junction, it looks like last week’s cold front had an adverse effect on several bird species that call Colorado home.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials believe that multiple dead birds found in the Durango and Gunnison areas did not survive the cold front experienced throughout the state last week and died during migration.
Snow fell on the Front Range early last week and National Weather Service forecaster Dan Cuevas said temperatures were reported to be 20 to 30 degrees below normal in Craig last Thursday.
Prior to the temperature drop, Grand Junction experienced the hottest-ever August on record and more record-breaking heat in early September.
“It was the earliest we’d seen snow in the Durango area for quite some time. Gunnsion also got hit pretty hard,” CPW southwest public information officer Joe Lewandowski said. “We saw a radical change in temperatures last week and for birds migrating… it really caught them off guard. It was an unfortunate collision of events.”
Lewandoski said they haven’t gotten reports of a high number of dead birds, but rather individual birds found to have not survived.
He said Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have received reports all over La Plata County and Durango.
He said most have typically been smaller birds.
“We aren’t finding any raptors or hawks. In Paonia, we have gotten reports of birds frozen to the ground,” he added.
Lewandoski estimated that both the Durango and Gunnsion offices have each received around 10 calls.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “The Grand Junction office hasn’t had any reports of problems.”
Although there may have only been a small number of dead birds found in southwest Colorado and they are believed to be linked to the extreme weather experienced across the state, southern New Mexico appears to have experienced something a little more severe.
Various species of migratory birds have been found by local officials to be dying off in unprecedented numbers, with a large number of birds found at the White Sands National Monument last month, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
A professor at New Mexico State University’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology said that hundreds of thousands of birds have been lost.
The affected birds, which have included warblers, sparrows, swallows, blackbirds and more, may be dying out due to extreme wildfires found across the western United States.
More than 300 dead migratory birds were examined by biologists from the New Mexico State University for answers.