Dead Rock PIgeon

Rock Pigeon, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA

Dead Birds are Hard to Find

According to one estimate, over 13 million birds die every DAY in the United States.  That adds up to 5 billion dead birds a year in the United States. Or, by another measure, it is as many dead birds in two minutes as there have been tweets by Donald Trump while he has been President. Given those numbers, it’s hard to believe that I only occasionally come across a dead bird. 

Dead Barn Owl

Barn Owl, Kenneth Hahn Park, Los Angeles, CA


Dead American Coot

American Coot, Ballona Freshwater Marsh, Los Angeles, CA

Where do all these millions of dead birds go? My guess is that a big number are eaten by cats or dogs or coyotes or hawks. If they’re killed by predation, then it’s no surprise we don’t find them. Take the House Finch in this Cooper’s Hawk’s talons – if I’d walked by 10 minutes later, there’d likely have been no dead bird to find. 

Coopers Hawk with House Finch

House Finch, Ballona Freshwater Marsh, Los Angeles, CA

It also seems likely that most birds don’t die on roads, sidewalks, or hiking trails, where we’re likely to see them. Instead, they die in the brush, off the path, or in lakes and rivers. And scavengers and insects probably make quick work of the bodies, further reducing the chance that we stumble upon a carcass.

Dead Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl, Highway 24, Sevier County, Utah