The Slatest

It’s Probably Nothing

Florida’s gulf coast is, in all likelihood, not about to be attacked by Godzilla.

What’s that? The AP reports that thousands of birds have abandoned breeding grounds on Florida’s gulf coast? It’s probably nothing.

Birds move in flocks, right? It’s probably not that unusual for a bunch of them to leave their nests. You know—herd behavior.

“It’s not uncommon for birds to abandon nests,” said Peter Frederick, a University of Florida wildlife biologist who has studied Florida’s birds for nearly 30 years. “But, in this case, what’s puzzling is that all of the species did it.”

Hmm. Maybe it’s some sort of disease or ecological contaminant. Could we run some tests?

Those tests came back negative.

Encroaching predators?

Traps caught a few raccoons, which is common, but not enough to have created a wholesale abandonment. There were no telltale signs of owls.

Ahh. Well, it’s probably nothing. It must have taken place slowly, over time, until we just happened to notice it recently.

On a Tuesday in May [tour guide Mike O’Dell] led a group out to view thousands of birds crowding the shores of the key. On Wednesday, there was nothing.

[High-pitched nervous laughter]

[Laughter fades into a deep, uncomfortable silence]

Do you guys—did you guys hear something? I thought I just heard a kind of big low rumble coming from down by the docks where that eccentric old fisherman hangs out.

Screen shot/Godzilla (1998)

It’s probably nothing.