Deadly Brain Disease Is Driving Swamp Birds Insane
A mysterious disease has been killing ducks and eagles in Florida’s wetlands, and endangered snail kites may be its next victims.
It’s not easy to make a living as a bird of prey, especially if you’re a Florida snail kite. Once at risk of starvation due to declines in its favored prey, the endangered bird is now facing a terrifying threat: a deadly disease that drives birds insane.
True to its name, the foot-long snail kite eats only snails—its hooked beak is the ideal shape for plucking muscular morsels from whorled shells. But an adult raptor must find and eat dozens of snails every day to survive, more if it’s feeding babies.
Unfortunately for the birds, Florida’s native apple snails aren’t doing well. Half of the Everglades wetlands are now developed and riddled with canals and levees, leaving water unpredictable in their