More Than 1,000 Dead Red-Winged Blackbirds Fall From The Sky

The town of Beebe, Arkansas, had a nasty surprise this New Year’s Eve. By midnight, more than 1,000 dead red-winged blackbirds had fallen out of the sky on to city streets.

Streets Covered With Corpses Of Dead Birds

From The New York Daily News:

Dozens of lawns, streets and rooftops for more than a mile in Beebe, Ark., were covered with the corpses of red-winged black birds. An aerial survey showed that no other dead birds were found outside that area.

Beebe residents describe the scene as something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film, and the town’s mayor, Mike Robertson, said he and other officials initially thought news of the birds was a New Year’s prank.

“I thought the mayor was messing with me when he called me,” Milton McCullar, a town street supervisor, told local television station KATV. “He got me up at 4′oclock in the morning and told me we had birds falling out of the sky.”

Lightning Or Hail?

What on earth could have caused such an event?

As first reported by the BBC, according to Arkansas Fish and Game ornithologist Karen Rowe, the birds could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail.

Or Maybe Fireworks?

Then again, it was New Year’s Eve. Could setting off fireworks have something to do with this bizarre occurrence?

“Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved them falling out of the sky, it is unlikely they were poisoned, but a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin,” Ms. Rowe stated, explaining why 65 dead birds had been sent off for scientific analysis.

Last Year It Was Dead Starlings

Similar events have happened before: last March, in a quiet British town, about a hundred starlings dropped out of the sky, dying; and in January of 2010, the same thing happened in Franklin Township, New Jersey.

However the mystery is resolved, this is not an auspicious beginning of the new year for Beebe, AK, which was one of the cities declared a disaster area just a year ago, after severe storms and flooding.

Let’s hope they find the cause of death of these pretty birds.

Creative Commons - Clearly Ambiguous

179 comments

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Arkana Ireland
Arkana Ireland6 years ago

Hail as a reason can be excluded if the bodies don't show any sign of injuries - but it could be sudden freezing air layers which cause the high performance little bodies to fail functioning in minutes. And it is not unusual that this happens nor that it is only 'one species' - we know, birds fly in swarms - and they contain only one species. Chemicals COULD be the reason too - but this is improbable, as it is lightning which would cause burns that could easily been seen too.

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Jennifer M.
Jennifer M6 years ago

EEEEK!!

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

This is strange .... and it does not appear to be associated with chemicals -- only one species was affected. Very strange, and I await the autopsy results.

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irene davis
irene davis6 years ago

thanks for posting this.

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David L.
David L.6 years ago

I was having a look at the flood disaster in Australia and what devastation it has bought to Queensland. I could not stop thinking of the amount of fuel and chemicals that has leaked into the river systems and ultimately the sea. It will have a profound affect on the health of not only humans but also the wildlife.
My question is as follows: With the current change in climate and the rising sea levels, the industrial infrastructure world wide is well exposed to the shore lines and close to rivers. Has there been any thought of what can potentialy happen when the sea does reclaim these vast areas and rivers that will burst their banks on a more regular basis because of the change in the weather patterns? I have seen flooding in South Africa, like I have never seen before and the sea is rising, shore lines are changing dramatically and could reach even 40 meters above the current sea level...who knows but the earth's history reveals that it has before and the clock is ticking, we seem to be heading in that direction.

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Harold B.
Harold B.6 years ago

Hi, not sure how many know about this area. But chemical plant was nearby, vertac I think it is spelled. There was also a pod of kids who had aplastic anemia noted back in the 80s. So to see this happen surprises me not at all. And with all the flooding and damage and rebuilding and polution this all churned up over the past few years..........not at all a surprise to me. EPA needs to get into gear and get things nailed down. It has been to long and to many things have gone on at this point. Not an alarmist, a realist. You have first the aplastic anemia---rare in itself; dead birds in droves rare also; now dead fish en mass?? When will someone wake up and smell the rotting going on in poor Beebe. I tell y a what if it was me, I'd be outta there before the last chime from the clock!!

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Elaine W.
Elaine W6 years ago

Poison gas cloud ? I will be interested to find out what they come up with ?

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David L.
David L.6 years ago

If you look up for the histoty of this bird it says that the Red-Winged Black Bird's habitat is open grass area, generally prefers wetlands and saltwater marshes.
It is regarded as a agricultural pest and up to now there is unknown cases of farmers using paration type chemicals to control the numbers.
Now the common place for both victims and their habitat is water. Has there been proper testing done on the toxic levels or presence of any chemicals in both species or water samples taken?
I still maintain that this is likely to be a case of poison.

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Gloria W.
Gloria W.6 years ago

sad!

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