Dozens of dead blackbirds have fallen from the sky over a small Arkansas town for the second year in a row.
That the town of Beebe has seen this before, however, doesn't make the deaths of dozens of birds any less odd -- maybe even more so.
ABC Arkansas affiliate KATV reported that a radar image showed a large mass over Beebe a few hours before midnight Saturday. Then the birds began falling from the sky, just like last year.
Emily Nichols, a police dispatcher in Beebe, told ABC Radio that she received multiple calls. "Just that blackbirds are falling again and that they found black birds on their streets where they live or at churches," Nichols said.
Animal Care and Control was called out at about 7 p.m., a few hours earlier than last year, Horace Taylor of Animal Care and Control in Beebe told ABC Radio.
"Well, there was just birds falling down on the street and people dodging and missing them," Taylor said. "And we were down the street picking them up. We got called out by the chief and we all [came] out trying to pick them off the street."
Taylor added that the Game and Fish Department took about 30 of the nearly 100 birds for testing to try to determine what happened.
Fireworks were blamed for the deaths of thousands of blackbirds last year, but it's unclear whether fireworks were the cause this time. Police imposed an impromptu ban on fireworks when the birds began falling this year.
Lt. Brian Duke of the Beebe Police Department told ABC this year wasn't nearly as bad as last year, when the birds covered the streets of Beebe. This year, they were concentrated in a smaller area and the birds were cleaned up quickly. There haven't been any reports of people being hit by a falling bird.
Biologists said last year's kill was caused by birds who were spooked off their roosts by the loud explosions and began flying into homes, cars, telephone poles and each other.
Around this same time last year, thousands of dead fish also turned up in the Arkansas River, prompting conspiracies about the end of the world, poison and environmental catastrophe.
Taylor and Duke both agree, though: it's probably just the fireworks in Beebe.
The last line id like to comment on.....if that was the case about the fireworks.....why a small town like Beebe and not New York....or London....or in fact any place where a stupid amount of fireworks were being launched.
And then this report was published..
The Apocalypse may not have arrived in Arkansas on New Year's Day after all.
State wildlife officials now say it appears that the 200 or so blackbirds that fell from the sky in the small town of Beebe on New Year's Day were deliberately spooked by fireworks.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokeswoman Ginny Porter says it appears fireworks were deliberately set off in a large roost outside of town where the blackbirds gather among the trees and scrub brush.
"On New Year's Eve, we had wildlife officers and local police officers patrolling the area," Porter told CTVNews.ca by phone.
"….While they were on another call, someone came in and put a large firework in the area of the roost and set it off."
Within minutes of the fireworks going off, dozens of red-winged blackbirds began falling from the sky.
The first reports of the dead birds came around 7 p.m. In all, about 200 birds are thought to have died, says Porter, who notes that wildlife officers are still retrieving bodies.
"It's around 200 birds. That number may change, but as of yesterday, it was 200 birds," she said.
Porter says officers heard the explosions and soon found fireworks debris inside the roost.
Beebe, Ark., is the same town where about 3,000 blackbirds rained from the skies last New Year's Day. The birds landed on sidewalks and fields and even dropped onto one woman who was out walking her dog.
The blackbird die-off was quickly followed by the sudden deaths of tens of thousands of drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River.
The two incidents together grabbed headlines and had conspiracy theorists and doomsdayers abuzz.
While some worried that the events portended the end was nigh, Porter says a logical explanation for the bird deaths was soon determined.
"It was not the apocalypse; it was fireworks. There was an extensive investigation," she says.
Biologists discovered that the loud explosions of the New Year's Eve fireworks spooked the birds out of their roosts. Blackbirds "don't do well at night," Porter explains, and have trouble seeing in the dark.
"When the fireworks go off, they're startled and start flying all over the place and into each other and into the trees and into whatever's near. So blunt force trauma is what killed them," she says.
While last year's deaths were likely not intentional, it appears that this year's deaths were.
Porter says it's now up to the local Beebe police department to investigate the matter further and determine whether to pursue charges.
The silver lining is that this year's incident helps to cement the theory that fireworks were behind the deaths a year earlier.
"Out biologists put it well yesterday: this confirms our reasoning from last year. With the clear evidence of fireworks this year and the same thing happening as last year, it absolutely confirms what we determined from last year," she said.
I is on an EPIC 2012 watch this year and if any of you find any animal deaths around be sure to post them:).....So gonna throw up a ton of shit every now and again
ANYWAY happy 2012 peace love and light and all that:)
Let me take the stars down from the sky
Let me take the faith from your foundation
Let me take the wrong to make it right
Let me take away the dark like I’ve been here all night
Ending before I begin
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