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Pattern Recognition

I have no idea what kind of birds they were.

Near our home . . . I remember them in November last winter, but this year they did not arrive until January.

The Department publishes statistics on the animal populations they intentionally (and unintentionally) eliminate. In 2010, they claim to have intentionally killed 2,511,241 European Starlings and 1,129,595 Brown-headed Cowbirds using DRC-1339. How they can pretend to be so precise in counting the number dead is one mystery among several, especially given the fact that DRC-1339 does not kill instantly, but causes organs to shut down over a period of 1 to 3 days. Cowbirds and Starlings, along with some Blackbirds, are apparently quite the pests.

Last week, I was leaving town a little after 5:00. The temperature had dropped a solid 20° since I had been out earlier in the afternoon and the wind had picked up considerably. As I opened the car door, I saw the birds flying west over the Methodist church. At first, I thought it was the sort of thick formation that I like to see maneuver around the lots near our house. But as I paused to watch for a few more moments, I realized this was more than the typical few hundred birds moving in an excited burst. This was a dense column of birds, moving with some urgency and in undiminished numbers as the moments passed. Even as I began to drive home and passed underneath, the urgent column continued unabated. It must have contained tens of thousands, if not more.

I have no idea what kind of birds they were.

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