Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mass bird deaths puzzles experts

In something that could be the beginnings of a plot from an Alfred Hitchcock movie there have been reports from around the world of mysterious occurrences of birds dropping dead and falling from the sky. In the latest incident report dozens of birds fell onto a street in Sweden and as yet there is no explanation as to what caused their deaths.

On Friday last week hundreds of blackbirds were found dead in Arkansas in the United States after apparently dropping from the sky shortly before midnight [BBC]. Although there are suggestions they may have been victim to fireworks set off during new year festivities, there is no official explanation as to what caused the birds' deaths [BBC].

Police in the town of Falkoeping have told Swedish media that between 50 and 100 jackdaws had died in the latest incident to be reported. Some are said to have been hit by cars but others have no visible injuries. Parallels have already been drawn with the mysterious death of about 3,000 red-winged blackbirds in the US state of Arkansas.

Veterinary officials told Swedish radio that the case in Falkoeping was rare and that there could be a number of reasons such as "disease or poisoning". The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet quoted one resident, Drilon Hulaj, who said that as he drove home late on Tuesday night the street in front of him was dotted with "hundreds of dead birds" [Fox News].

While the phenomena of birds falling from the sky is not unusual in itself, the number of reports coming so close together has caused a flurry of excitement on social media websites. Chris Cunnyngham, writing for the Enquirer, said that mass bird deaths are nothing new and points to at least one case in April 2010 when some 100 birds fell out of a Texas sky and onto a Highway 66 bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard. Many witnesses were said to be "freaked out" by the event. This followed a March incident in which 100 starlings dropped out of the sky and managed to land in a single 4 metre garden in Somerset, England. Experts there concluded that the birds died from "collision." Thou it was not explained what that had collided with.

As reports of the Swedish event was tweeted around the globe on Twitter, there were yet more reported incidents of birds dropping from the skies. Kentucky wildlife officials say several hundred dead birds were found dead in the western part of the state last week, amongst them grackles, red wing blackbirds, robins and starlings. And another 450 birds died this week in Louisiana, apparently after hitting power lines or cars.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Marraccini said tests performed on the birds ruled out diseases or poisons and that the deaths could have been caused by weather or another natural event [Washington Post].

Bird experts have stressed no one should be worried by the spate of incidents. "Mass bird die-offs can be caused by starvation, storms, disease, pesticide, collision with man-made structures or human disturbance ... Initial findings indicate that these are isolated incidents that were probably caused by disturbance and disorientation," Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation at the Audubon Society, said.

Of course the rational explanations have failed to halt the hysteria that is sweeping the Internet on bulletin boards, forums and on social media. Comments left on the Guardian website were varied, ranging from the insane to the bizarre. "I read an article on here about some Christian group in the US claiming the end of the world will be on the 21st May this year... Of course, all that stuff is just silly nonsense. Right? Right?!" one writer posted. "Remember the ten plagues of Egypt? -eek!-", another wrote, referring to the Bible. Some have even suggested the bird deaths were a result of a death ray weapon test while others have put forward the idea it was a force field emitted by aliens [UFO Casebook] .

It has not just been birds mysteriously dying however. The Guardian refers to the death of fish in parts of the US while the New Zealand Herald talks of large numbers of snappers being found washed up on New Zealand's beaches. And the Daily Mail and Star report of hundreds of starfish and crabs being washed up on shores of England.

Of course it may all be just coincidence, even if more than a little bizarre. Some however are hoping that the events were a sign of an impending apocalypse. "I really hope it's the end of the world," one comment read on the Guardian webpage, "life's rubbish anyway!"

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China


air max said...

It is very bad for bird.
maybe humen is the "second bird".

Burberry Bags Outlet said...
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