A few minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, thousands of blackbirds fell dead from the sky in Arkansas.
Occurring over the town of Bebe, Arkansas, in an area about a mile long and a half-mile wide, the phenomenon is, thus far, totally unexplained. In fact, the BBC’s story accompanying the article is just 54 words long. The local TV station, KATV, has a longer story that’s even more maddening for its lack of answers. The speculation is that lightning or high-atmosphere hail caused the deaths, but further speculation is that New Year’s Eve fireworks could have caused the birds to die of stress (which sounds unfeasible to me, but what do I know?)
There was a similar event in 2007 in Southwestern Australia, and the very short quote from a (now unavailable) 2007 CNN story about the Australia event says it happened “recently” (prior to 2007) in Texas and Oregon. I’m pretty sure, though, none of them happened just before midnight on New Year’s Eve — which is just creepy.
Back in Arkansas, the local news cites an earlier event in that state. It was also reported along the Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast migratory pathway (which to my understanding, leads all the way down to the Panamanian isthmus). I found other references to occurrences in
The local news calls it an “apocalyptic mystery,” and says there could be up to 5,000 birds.
The area’s TV station has this to say as a voice-over in the video:
It really is like something out of a horror film….dozens of birds litter the ground and the scariest part is, no one knows how they got here. Most of the animals are red-winged blackbirds…and they’re not just on lawns. We found so many of them on some roads that it was difficult to drive without crushing them.
Here, listen for yourself — but if you like birds, it might be disturbing.
Another news story says:
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says laboratories in Arkansas, Georgia and Wisconsin will examine some carcasses starting Monday. Results could be back in a week.
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 [Arkansas] in 1973 on the day before hunting season.