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Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:26 am
by James Parton
More than 1000 dead birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... cb318cda86

Re: Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:49 pm
by edfrank
Arkansas game officials probe mystery of falling birds
By the CNN Wire Staff

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/02/arkans ... cnn_latest

(
CNN) -- Arkansas game officials hope testing scheduled to begin Monday will solve the mystery of why more than 1,000 blackbirds fell from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve.
"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," Rowe said.

The dead birds will be sent for testing to labs at the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin.
The birds -- most of which were dead -- were found within a one-mile area of Beebe, about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said.

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Re: Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:40 pm
by James Parton
I was thinking these were Starlings, which are often called " Blackbirds ". They can form huge flocks around here. The picture is the Redwing Blackbird. I see them around wetlands but did not know they gathered together in large groups. Jenny?

Re: Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:23 pm
by edfrank
Pictures: Birds Fall From Sky in Arkansas

http://on.natgeo.com/hCvbtd

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Re: Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:18 pm
by AndrewJoslin
Pretty much all species of "passerines" (small and medium sized perching birds) that winter over in the U.S. form nightly roosts of varying size. Red-winged blackbirds definitely form big roosting flocks. Starlings are also well known for this winter roosting behavior. Some blackbird roosts will have mixed species, for instance grackles and red-winged blackbirds might roost together. American robin also forms huge nightly winter roosts.

It may be that someone took advantage of the Arkansas New year's tradition and detonated the cannons at or near a roost site. The birds could've suffered enough injury from shock waves to cause internal bleeding which did not kill them immediately but allowed them to fly a short distance before they succumbed and fell out of the sky.

Crows have been famously harassed at their winter roosts. I believe they modified their roosting behavior in the Boston area to avoid harassment, every night they change the location of the roost. An impressive feat since at the peak of the Boston crow roost (before West Nile Virus decimated their population) there were upwards of 6000 crows gathering from an approximately 15 mile radius every night to roost. How they made the group decision to relocate the roost each night is beyond the capability of the puny human mind to decipher :-)

If it is determined that someone intentionally destroyed the blackbirds in the Arkansas roost I hope they will be severely prosecuted.
-Andrew

Re: Dead Birds fall from the sky in Arkansas.

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:35 pm
by edfrank
Radio Interview About Dead Blackbirds

http://birdsredesign.wordpress.com/2011 ... lackbirds/
There’s been an immense amount of concern and confusion about what caused thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds in Arkansas to drop dead in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve. The general public and media outlets have been calling us with questions, but it’s been very hard for anyone—even the biologists working on the scene—to pin down causes this soon after the event.

This morning Hofstra University’s radio station, on Long Island, aired an 11-minute interview with Cornell Lab scientist Kevin McGowan. We’re reposting it here because Dr. McGowan gives a good summary of what the likely causes may have been (as well as some things that probably didn’t cause it), why the well-publicized fish kill 200 miles away was almost certainly not involved, why urban birds may be better able to avoid disaster than rural flocks, and related topics. It’s a fascinating and level-headed discussion amid all the uncertainty.