Thousands of dead birds fall from the sky in Arkansas town
Why did thousands of birds fall from the sky in Arkansas? State wildlife officials began testing carcasses of red-winged blackbirds that rained down on the town of Beebe on New Year’s Eve. Biologists suspect that severe weather or fireworks, rather than disease or poison, caused the birds to fall from the sky.
Birds fall from the sky on New Year’s Eve
The flock of dead red-winged blackbirds that fell from the sky in Arkansas covered an area about a mile long and half a mile wide. On New Year’s Day the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said between 4,000 and 5,000 birds were found dead on the ground in Beebe, Ark., about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock. The City of Beebe has hired an environmental services company to collect blackbirds strewn among yards and rooftops. Workers in environmental protection suits canvassed neighborhoods. Bird carcasses crushed by traffic littered the streets.
A perfect storm?
The birds that fell from the sky showed signs of trauma, which officials said could have been caused as they hit the ground. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials said no other birds were found, which probably ruled out poison or disease. A perfect storm of fireworks and weather could have doomed the birds. A large New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the area may have startled the birds into the air, where they possibly encountered lightening or hail at a high altitude. A severe storm had passed through Arkansas earlier in the day on New Year’s Eve.
Killer virus or toxic chemicals unlikely
Birds fall from the sky on occasion in Arkansas. A flock of ducks were killed in Hot Springs, Ark. in 2001. On the day before hunting season opened in 1973, hail caused birds to fall from the sky in Stuttgart, Ark. In Beebe, several hundred thousand red-winged blackbirds roost in a wooded area within the city. There were no dead birds found on the ground in the roost area, which has led officials to rule out a killer virus or toxic chemicals.