Dead Blackbirds Fall From Sky, Prompting Bunk

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Dead-birds-007.jpgOn January 1st 2011, thousands of dead birds, mostly red-wing blackbirds, were found in Beebe Arkansas. The cause of this sudden rush of bird deaths is unknown, but there were several plausible explanations.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40874105/
Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said that similar events have occurred elsewhere and that test results "usually were inconclusive."
The birds showed physical trauma, said Rowe, who surmised that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."
The agency also said another possibility is that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

Note what she said: "similar events have occurred elsewhere".

And a good overview of the story is here:
http://firstarkansasnews.net/2011/01/working-to-solve-beebes-new-years-eve-bird-mystery/
“I was on the phone with the wildlife officer at 12:15 am and he had several fall out of the sky while were were talking,” said Rowe. ”While this is a very unusual case, I am not deeply alarmed. The birds were in good physical health and initial exams show trauma, so they either succumbed to a freak of nature such as hail or lighting strike, or were caught in the effects of New Years eve fireworks. Something caused the birds to sustain physical trauma while they were airborne, and something cause the roosting birds to flush (blackbirds roost or spend the night in large groups in the treetops) from their roost in the middle of the night.”​
In fact this is not as uncommon as the story makes out at all. It happens from time to time and has happened all through recorded history. It's called a "die-off", and there are many possible causes, although it's not always possible to determine what the cause is. The flaw in the media coverage here is failing to note that this is not such an extraordinary event. If people knew that this type of thing happens several times every year, somewhere in the world, then they would be much less likely to consider it interesting. Of course that makes the story less interesting, and the media wants people to read the story. A headline of "Thousands of birds mysteriously drop dead from the sky" is less interesting than "Yet again, a flock of birds dies for some reason".

It happened in 2007 to a flock (note, a flock) of purple martins. Prompting then, as now and every other time, the suggestion that this was a sign of the end-times.

%E4%B8%8E%E9%BA%BB%E9%9B%80%E4%B8%8D%E5%85%B1%E6%88%B4%E5%A4%A9%E2%80%94%E2%80%94%E3%80%8A%E5%A4.jpgIf you are familiar with the sight of blackbirds flocking in huge numbers, then this story might seem less surprising to you. It's New-Years Eve. Fireworks scare a huge roosting flock of birds into the air. They are disoriented by more fireworks. They head for the the lights of the town. They don't normally fly in the dark. They crash into each other, trees, building, lights, the ground. A lot of the end up dead. It's not at all implausible. Consider that in 1958, in China, literally tens of millions of sparrows were killed simply by people not letting them roost, which they did by banging pots and pans together. When the birds are exhausted, they just drop dead out of the sky.

What of the other birds found mixed in? And aren't Blackbirds solitary birds? Well:

http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/red-winged_blackbird.htm
When breeding season is over, Red-winged Blackbirds join enormous flocks, often mixed with Grackles, European Starlings, and Cowbirds. The flocks fly in great numbers, searching for food

So yes, Red Winged Blackbirds form flocks of thousands of birds:




Here's a video of some kids scaring up a roosting flock of blackbirds in the evening, easily several thousand birds. Imagine if it had been later at night, with fireworks. Through injury or exhaustion, some of those birds are going to end up dead, or so damaged they die later.

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The key thing that the media stories seem to be missing is that some thing happened to a flock. Birds are not just randomly dropping from the sky. There was some event that somehow damaged the flock.

Just last year (2010), a small flock of birds apparently flew into something while being chased, or sick.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/new...f-starlings-found-dead-in-village-garden.html
Seventy-five birds were found in an area measuring only 12ft in diameter, each with severe injuries including broken beaks and legs, and abdominal wounds.

“They have done a swoop to try to escape but they all got too low and hit the ground,” said a spokesman. “Bystanders heard a whooshing sound as the birds fell to the ground and suddenly there were dead ones everywhere.

The_Southeast_Missourian_-_Google_News_Archive_Search-20110102-132645.jpgBack in 1999, thousands of birds found dead in a field. Probably poisoned by insecticide.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=aR8vAAAAIBAJ&sjid=H90FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3803,8739503

1963 - Santa Cruz - The inspiration for the Hitchcock's The Birds
http://www.santacruzpl.org/history/articles/183/
Dead, and stunned seabirds littered the streets and roads in the foggy, early dawn. Startled by the invasion, residents rushed out on their lawns with flashlights, then rushed back inside, as the birds flew toward their light.
. . .

When the light of day made the area visible, residents found the streets covered with birds. The birds disgorged bits of fish and fish skeletons over the streets and lawns and housetops, leaving an overpowering fishy stench.
Birds are actually one of the least surprising things to fall dead from the sky: fish, lizards, jellyfish, and snakes have all been reported in the past. But even back over 100 years ago, bird falls had an explanation.
During the early morning hours of a day in November 1896, a deluge of dead birds fell from a clear sky above Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They fell in such numbers that contemporary accounts say that they “cluttered the streets of the city”. The birds included wild ducks, catbirds, woodpeckers and many birds of strange plumage, some of them “resembling canaries”. The birds were all dead and fell in heaps throughout the city. The only plausible theory advanced as to the source of the birds was that they had been driven inland by a recent storm along the Florida coast and had been killed by a sudden change in temperature around Baton Rouge. The editors of the Monthly Weather Review stated that storms and temperature changes were common, but bird falls were most assuredly not.
But of course the explanation has to be something sinister:

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1306681/pg1
I would not think chem-trails....
We have seen them since 99 or earlier.
Why had we not seen a die-off like that before???
As I typed that, it occurred to me they may have changed/strengthened the chemicals used.
Another question, if chem-trails are seen all over, why only die-off's in S.A. and one state in US??​
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=196881.msg1168524#msg1168524
This is absolutely bizarre! More experiments on the American people? Guys roll in with Hazmat outfits and masks clean up thousands of dead birds and leave. This should be a national story! What planet am I living on?​
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread646205/pg1
I'm going with either solar activity related, else maybe HAARP or similar facility was doing some experimentation.
...
Seriously though, maybe their was a secret radio wave experiment conducted by the government and an unexpected reaction caused these birds to become disoriented and they fell to their deaths?

Maybe HAARP was behind this?

Who knows what our government does or what kind of secrets it keeps from us. We just see the remnants of their experiments.

Maybe they were testing something that would eventually be used on us to reduce world population?​


To add fuel to the fire, the next day there was also a huge fish die-off just 125 miles upriver.
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/US/01/02/arkansas.fish.kill/
Stephens said fish kills occur every year, but the size of the latest one is unusual, and suggested some sort of disease was to blame.
"The fish kill only affected one species of fish," he said. "If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish."
Ozark is about 125 west of the town of Beebe, where game wardens are trying to find out why up to 5,000 blackbirds fell from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve.
Again, something that happens every year. But because it happened to coincide with the bird die-off, the media gives the fish rather more attention than normal.

So where's the bunk? Well, this is a genuinely interesting story, we don't know why thousands of birds died. It's also a good human-interest story, in that it must be quite surprising and upsetting for the people of Beebe to have dead birds scattered all over town.

The bunk is what the media mostly left out. That bird die-offs happen every year, somewhere in the world. That this was a flock of birds that died because of something that happened to the flock, not just random birds being picked out one at a time by the finger of death. Mostly the bunk is that they say it's mysterious. Sure, we don't know what caused it. But really there's very few options, in decreasing likelihood: fireworks, storm, and (unlikely) poison. That's about it. Saying it's a mystery implies that scientists have no idea. That then opens the door for the fringe to step in and start speculating.

The news stories here are generally not bunk. They just create bunk. The eventual official explanation will be ignored and this story will inevitably be incorporated into the alternative narrative of events of the conspiracy theorists, just like the mystery missile.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Another useful update:

http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=136444&provider=top

Arkansas State Veterinarian Dr. George Badley tells Today's THV that preliminary test results show thousands of birds died mid-air due to multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs.

...

It's not the first time birds have dropped from the Arkansas sky. Lightning killed ducks at Hot Springs in 2001 and hail knocked birds from the sky at Stuttgart in 1973 on the day before hunting season.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
And another. Looks like the weather is now the leading theory.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40885546/ns/us_news-environment/

The director of Cornell University's ornithology lab in Ithaca, N.Y., said the most likely suspect is violent weather. It's probable that thousands of birds were asleep, roosting in a single tree, when a "washing machine-type thunderstorm" sucked them up into the air, disoriented them, and even fatally soaked and chilled them.
"Bad weather can occasionally catch flocks off guard, blow them off a roost, and they get hurled up suddenly into this thundercloud," lab director John Fitzpatrick said.
Rough weather had hit the state earlier Friday, but the worst of it was already well east of Beebe by the time the birds started falling, said Chris Buonanno, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.
If weather was the cause, the birds could have died in several ways, Fitzpatrick said. They could easily become disoriented — with no lights to tell them up and down — and smack into the ground. Or they could have died from exposure.
The birds' feathers keep them at a toasty 103 degrees, but "once that coat gets unnaturally wet, it's only a matter of minutes before they're done for," Fitzpatrick said.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
In the story that you say makes the Arkansas bird drop out as uncommon, when it shouldn't, it's actually the official ornithologist that is making it out to be a "very unusual case." The reporter is including information from scientists and officials on the matter and while this article didn't say that this kind of thing happens from time to time, plenty of other articles - even the early ones -do. This report is on an occasion when there are crews walking around in hazmat suits - even when you exclude those residents who worried about out-there possibilities (if they really were even saying that seriously), it's reasonable for residents to be cautious or concerned given the hazmat troupe and -for their town- unusual incident. That behavior is generally selective for survival. Most media reports I've seen on the bird/fish/whatever issue have been reputable. (You go on to cite some fringe sites in your posting.)

Much assuming going on about what an average person's take (or average news reporter's take) on such incidents must be, such as at the very end of this article:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70534T20110106

As you've no doubt seen over the past few days information is reported sparsely, more information comes out, and reports are updated to fill in the picture. The initial report about this whole thing was, I believe, a press release from the state wildlife commission or similar.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I understand why the media reported it in the scary way it did, and why it reported the fears of the townspeople. It's just unfortunate they could not have done a bit more research beforehand to put it in perspective. There have been much bigger bird kills in the past.

I suppose though I'm hoping for too much. The media has eventually set the record straight for the most part (that Reuters article is pretty good) - but we are still getting every single mass death anywhere in the world reported as if it's major news. That's still reinforcing the idea that this is something unusual on an "end-times" scale, rather than a decade scale. It's now embedded in the canon of the fringe.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I think also we have to look at the difference between the time-critical reporting, and the more leisurely journalism of days later. They are really entirely different animals, and the criticism of them needs to be different.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
Scary? I found mostly plain facts, and view reports of other incidents as part of the process of getting to the bottom of it all. I haven't seen anyone outside of fringe elements viewing it all with more than a raised eyebrow awaiting toxicology reports etc., just "oh hey kind of interesting there are these other incidents, let's see." Or with some humor.

It concerns me that some "experts" may be severely misinformed on what an average person's reasoning capacity is. It is sad to see some of the derisive comments that have appeared in various places characterizing the public as rather prone to hysteria, or worse. That's where I see unsubstantiated info.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's scary in that it scares people. Particularly the headlines. "Scientists are baffled", "mysterious deaths of thousands of birds all over the country". Sounds like scary stuff. Should be "an unusually, but not implausibly high, natural die-off, and some fairly normal ones, all probably due to the weather."

The unwillingness of scientists to commit to one answer is too often portrayed as "they have NO IDEA!!!!"
 

Vierotchka

New Member
FACT CHECK: Mass bird, fish deaths occur regularly

Found this interesting article, the voice of reason. An excerpt:
First, the blackbirds fell out of the sky on New Year's Eve in Arkansas. In recent days, wildlife have mysteriously died in big numbers: 2 million fish in the Chesapeake Bay, 150 tons of red tilapia in Vietnam, 40,000 crabs in Britain and other places across the world. Blogs connected the deadly dots, joking about the "aflockalypse" while others saw real signs of something sinister, either biblical or environmental.

The reality, say biologists, is that these mass die-offs happen all the time and usually are unrelated.

Federal records show they happen on average every other day somewhere in North America. Usually, we don't notice them and don't try to link them to each other.

"They generally fly under the radar," said ornithologist John Wiens, chief scientist at the California research institution PRBO Conservation Science.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The same event happened again, one year later, basically confirming the original hypothesis that it was the roosting birds spooked by fireworks. This time it seems like it was someone trying to deliberately recreate last year's event.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/01/dead-blackbirds-by-the-10_n_1178421.html

BEEBE, Ark. — Authorities in a central Arkansas town say about 100 blackbirds died on New Year's Eve after being spooked by fireworks, far less than the thousands that perished there a year ago.
Beebe police Lt. Brian Duke said Sunday that officials asked local residents who were celebrating the year's end to stop setting off fireworks after blackbirds again started flying into objects and each other.
The state Game and Fish Commission says someone appears to have targeted a blackbird roost this year and that there was evidence of fireworks at the roost.
 
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