Everyone! Please stop being surprised that the USDA is behind some of the mass bird die-offs!
The USDA's Wildlife Services kills millions of wildlife annually. It has for decades.
In 2009, 4.1 million wild animals were killed, including 1.2 million starlings and nearly a million blackbirds.
Birds are killed primarily with compound DFC-1339, an avicide that is a slow killer of birds. It metabolizes quickly so secondary animals are generally not harmed. Which still sucks for the birds.
The birds are killed because they eat seeds and can defecate in the grain fed to animals people slaughter and eat. If you eat sunflower seeds grown in the midwest, you can bet a lot of blackbirds were poisoned.
Granted, the USDA disperses far more than they kill, but for those of us who like wildlife to stay wild, to take precedence over grain and raising animals for their flesh, it is unacceptable.
You can see the 2009 stats of killed/displaced animals here.