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.

SourceSource 2.

6 Responses to “Update: Authorities Cling to Fireworks Explanation for Arkansas Bird Deaths”

  1. Corey Havens Says:

    Jan. 7, 2009, a similar event took place in Franklin Township, NJ. As many as 5000 black Starling dropped from the skies after being poisoned with DRC-1339, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was a culling program used to protect local farm crops. Ironically enough, the poison only effect black Starlings and is of no dnager to humans or other animal (i.e. dogs and cats that would have ate the dead birds). During that incident the Dept. of Agriculture did a very poor job of informing the public.

  2. […] our regular readers will be familiar with the explanation Swedish officials offered for the bird’s deaths: Our main theory is that the birds were […]

  3. I’m glad to see others are questioning the fireworks theory. The eyewitness reports I read said the birds fell from the sky just the way multiple DRC-1339 poisoned flocks gone astray are reported to have done. I think if USDA or F&W had poisoned the birds, they would have admitted it, but a USDA manager is quoted below as saying that he has heard there are illegal OTC sales of the poison.


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