Much has been said about Bird Box, the horror movie starring Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes about unseen demonic forces that drive people to commit suicide. Though the film never shows the monsters responsible for the armageddon, we know from anecdotes what the thing would have looked like. But, and go with me here, what if the thing was actually the birds? What if the birds were actually the evil?
On one hand, it seems improbable, most of all because the unseen monsters wreak their havoc when people open their eyes outside, and Sandra Bullock keeps a number of birds both inside a box and inside various safe homes throughout the film. On the other, recent reports show that birds have been killing fellow avian creatures and feasting on their brains, so who’s to say.
According to Popular Science, great tits (yes, really) are murdering a species of bird called the pied flycatcher that migrates from Africa to Northern Europe every year to breed; a new study published in Current Biology examines why. The scientists think climate change is to blame; the study notes that the killer birds “breed on average 16.6 days (from 7.3 to 22.9) earlier than flycatchers in our population,” and called the murders “fatal competition for nesting cavities,” rather than murder, which is what it is.
The pied flycatcher’s migration pattern typically occurs in April, but due to climate change, that time frame now overlaps with the great tits’ breeding period. Popular Science noted that the murdered birds were typically “surplus” male birds who had failed to find a nest and mate because they migrated late. (The study says it found the bodies of 86 male and two female flycatchers in the great tits’ nest boxes.) You know what they say: The early bird gets to live!
The study’s lead author, Jelmer Samplonius, is a climate change ecologist at the University of Edinburgh; he told Popular Science that “great tits are superior competitors when it comes down to a brawl. They have really strong claws, and they hold onto [the flycatchers] and peck the back of their skulls, always in the same spot.” He also explained that he’s seen videos of great tits killing other birds for prey. “It’s quite a ferocious bird. People see it as a cute garden bird that comes to the feeder and eats some seeds, but some of them have a real anger-management problem,” he added.
Yet none of this answers the most pressing question of all: Why the great tit (lol) is called a great tit (again, lol). While the website for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds only displayed the types of avian tits in the U.K., it did not provide any information about the name origin. According to a number of birder blogs, however, a lot of birds’ names are rife with innuendo.
Just spitballing here, but has anyone considered the birds might be acting out because they were named this way by scientists? Is this, like climate change, actually just the fault of humans? Are we next? Will the birds turn on us? I promise you, great tits, my brains taste terrible. No, I don’t want you to find out.
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