Andrew Bird had the original inspiration for this during a trip to the Natural History Museum in Chicago. Bird told Mojo magazine June 2009: "My friend Diana works in the bird department. It yielded a pretty good line - 'A colony of dermestids undressed and digested/A grey spotted owl and wolf with lung disease.' That comes from seeing the dermestid chamber, where a beetle colony devour flesh off a moose head to prepare the skeletal specimen. Then you pull out this drawer and there's three birds of paradise with crazy plumage and an extinct passenger pigeon, perfectly preserved with a tag saying '1895.'"
Andrew Bird told Drowned In Sound: "This may be my favorite. Everything I was hoping to get with this record: a simple, sweet melody, interwoven rich acoustic textures and some words that don't screw it all up - about everyday natural disasters, from the 'Rage of Niagara' to decomposition on the forest floor. I think of when I was seven, throwing myself face down on a pile of steaming mulch with my Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass and pretending to be microscopic."
Fall Out Boy's "The Kids Aren't Alright" song title is not a reference to The Offspring's 1998 single of the same name. It actually alludes to The Who's 1979 rockumentary film called The Kids Are Alright.