Why Did 2000 Birds Fall From The Sky New Year's Eve?


BEEBE, Ark. The carcasses of some of the nearly 2,000 red-winged blackbirds that inexplicably fell on an Arkansas town on New Year's Eve night will be sent for testing to determine the cause of death.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said the state Livestock and Poultry Commission Lab and the National Wildlife Health Center Lab in Madison, Wis., will examine the dead birds starting Monday.

Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail, or may have been startled by fireworks.

Mike Robertson, the mayor in Beebe, told The Associated Press the last dead bird was removed about 11 a.m. Sunday in the town about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock. He said 12 to 15 workers, hired by the city to do the cleanup, wore environmental-protection suits for the task.

The birds had fallen Friday night over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area. The workers from U.S. Environmental Services started the cleanup Saturday.
Robertson said the workers wore the suits as a matter of routine and not out of fear that the birds might be contaminated. He said speculation on the cause is not focusing on disease or poisoning.

"It started at 7 a.m., picking up birds on the street, in the yards, been run over. It's just a mess," Beebe Street Department supervisor Milton McCullar told WISC-TV

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