Update: Authorities Cling to Fireworks Explanation for Arkansas Bird Deaths
With the bird death totals in Beebe, Arkansas now topping 3,000, authorities are scrambling for an explanation. The Arkanasas Fish and Game Commission seems to be circling the wagons around the “fireworks hypothesis”. But evidence to support its veracity is sorely lacking, other than vague reports of local residents “hearing fireworks” before the birds began to fall.
Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the AFGC, suggested that the fireworks forced the birds to fly “at rooftop level instead of treetop level” and that “Blackbirds have poor eyesight, [so] they started colliding with things.”
This seems a pretty shaky hypothesis to explain the death of more than 3,000 birds. Especially when the fireworks themselves haven’t been officially confirmed.
Equally odd is that fact that poison as a cause has been ruled out because “several cats and dogs that ate the dead birds suffered no ill effects”. This is a highly unscientific assertion, since not all toxins that would effect birds would effect dogs and cats in the same way.
[Update: Corey Havens, in the comment section below, confirms the existence of poisons that could kill birds; but leave dogs, cats, humans and other animals unaffected. And that such toxins have been used in bird culling as recently as a year ago. Thanks again for that info, Corey.]
Early reports that claimed the birds showed signs of “physical trauma” have been dropped from recent stories.
There is something odd about the way this phenomena is being investigated.
And this recent event adds to a number of similar incidents across the globe. It is a phenomena that reputable scientists have described as “widespread” and for which they have no clear explanation. But everything from mineral deficiencies to disease to freak weather conditions has been offered as a possible explanation. Or, as in the latest story, fireworks. But, in most instances, these events go by without any official committing to one explanation.