Male Red-winged Blackbird / Err on the Side of Caution

Male Red-winged Blackbird - Err on the Side of Caution

The Red-winged Blackbird is one of the most abundant and most studied birds in North America. It is a sexually dimorphic bird; the female is not black, nor does it have the red patch on its wing.

The Year 2011 started with two incidents in Arkansas where 5,000 Red-winged Blackbirds fell from the sky and 100,000 dead drum fish were discovered in the Arkansas River. These stories were picked up by the Media and speculation linking these events to pesticide use and even military experiments followed. Investigators explained that trauma was the cause of death for the Blackbirds who were startled by New Year's fireworks. [Red-winged Blackbirds do not see well in the dark]. They also announced that disease was the cause of the fish deaths.

There is no foolproof way to judge whether explanations given by experts are true or false. A quick look at recent history reveals that sometimes true scientists have won the battle of convincing the populace, while at other times the misinformation machine has won. Additionally, in the recent years, the majority of the Media seems to have shifted towards profiteering by exploiting the conflicts in the most sensational stories while de-prioritizing important news. What everyone has to remember is that unlike anytime in our past history, our actions could have global consequences. Where Trial and Error on a local level gave us our history lessons, we can not afford it on a global level. It has become imperative that we err on the side of caution...
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