Dying birds and the fires: scientists work to unravel a great mystery

Nobody knows precisely how wildfire smoke affects birds’ health and migratory patterns. Now, citizen birdwatchers are stepping in

The yellow Townsend Warbler lay lifeless on the gravel ground near Grant county, New Mexico, the eyes in its yellow-striped head closed, its black feathery underbelly exposed.

Just days before, the migrating bird – weighing 10 grams, or the equivalent of two nickels – might have been as far north as Alaska. But it met an untimely demise in the American south-west, with thousands of miles still to go before reaching Central America, its destination for the winter.

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