Dead blackbirds fall again in Arkansas town

Thousands of dead blackbirds rained down on a town in central Arkansas last New Year’s Eve after revelers set off fireworks that spooked them from their roost, and officials were reporting a similar occurrence Saturday as 2012 approached.

Police in Beebe said dozens of blackbirds had fallen dead, prompting officers to ban residents from shooting fireworks Saturday night. It wasn’t immediately clear if fireworks were again to blame, but authorities weren’t taking a chance.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of “birds on the streets” came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year’s end with fireworks in their neighborhoods.

“We started shutting down fireworks,” he said. “We’re working on cleaning up the birds now.”

He said police were working with animal control workers and others to remove the birds and determine a death count.

“We’re not sure if they’re going to continue to fall throughout the night. I can’t tell you,” Weeks said.

Scientists say the loud cracks and booms from celebratory fireworks likely sent the birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths last New Year’s Eve. The birds landed on roofs, sidewalks, streets and fields. One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.

The blackbird die-off, coupled with tens of thousands of dead drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, flung the state into the national headlines and drew conspiracy theorists and filmmakers to the town about 30 miles northeast of Little Rock that shares Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s last name.

Some people speculated that the birds had been poisoned; others said their deaths marked the beginning of the apocalypse.

“It’s just got to be a pain in my career,” Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew said.

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Birds fall from sky happening all around the globe

A large number of dead birds were found in the city of Falkoping, Sweden, Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to a press release on the website of the Swedish National Veterinary Institute.

Autopsies were performed on five of the birds. The institute said they died due to “sudden, hard external blows,” according to the press release. They had no signs of infection or other illnesses, and there were no external signs indicating what killed them.

“We have determined that the birds have died from severe internal bleedings caused by external blows,” said the Institute’s Marianne Elvander.

A similar unusual incident occurred in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Thousands of red-winged blackbirds and starlings were found dead over a square-mile area in the town of Beebe.

In a separate incident, some 500 red-winged blackbirds, starlings and sparrows were found dead Monday morning in the southern Louisiana community of Labarre.

It also happened in Chile on Jan 02, around the same time as the earthquake, 1500 birds dropped out of the sky.

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Birds fall from sky again, this time in Louisiana

The second unexplained mass bird death within a week has been discovered in the southern United States, this time in the state of Louisiana, officials said Tuesday.

The latest incident affected some 500 birds which were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, said Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Watkins said an investigation was underway into the cause of the deaths, which occurred just a few days after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighboring Arkansas.

“We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results,” she said.

Nancy Ledbetter at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission said officials in that state were awaiting test results to find the cause of death of as many as 5,000 blackbirds in the small town of Beebe as well as deaths of 80,000 to 100,000 fish found floating in the Arkansas River about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

“We still don’t believe the (fish and bird deaths) are related,” she said.

As to the incident in Louisiana, she said “We don’t expect that to be related either.”

Arkansas officials said preliminary testing showed no signs of disease in the dead birds and that they died of “acute physical trauma.”

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