The images break your heart. Kestrels — small birds of prey — their wings and tails torched, some burned down to the skin.
“It hurts me. Hurts me in here,” said Chris Takacs.
Audubon member Takacs — an avid bird photographer — took a picture of a kestrel burned by flying through a virtually invisible flare emitted by a pipe. It vents flammable methane 15 to 20 feet into the air at Kingsland Landfill, nonstop — a continuous 1,700-degree vortex created as the gas from decaying garbage burns off, unseeable except for shimmering heat unless you look at it after dark. Takacs took a video. He caught the burned kestrel in his photo, says it was grounded.
“Severely burned on two wings and severely burned in the tail. There was almost two-thirds of the feather gone. This bird could not fly. We watched it run around and jump to catch grasshoppers,” Takacs said.
“When you have even their feathers burned, you have to consider it a dead bird. They might not die at that instant but if they can’t hunt, if they can’t migrate — anything that hinders that — you have to consider that a bird that’s not going to survive the winter, unfortunately,” said Don Torino.
Torino heads the Bergen County Audubon Society. He says they found four burned kestrels around the landfills in North Arlington last month, don’t know how many they missed. But it’s prime kestrel habitat, located in the Meadowlands near DeKorte Park. Not that kestrels are the only birds burned by the methane flare.
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