Birds Dropping

January 2, 2011

First freakish episodes of a new year, from CNN:

Arkansas game officials hope testing scheduled to begin Monday will solve the mystery of why up to 5,000 birds fell from the sky just before midnight New Year’s Eve.

“It’s important to understand that a sick bird can’t fly. So whatever happened to these birds happened very quickly,” Rowe (ornithologist Karen Rowe) told CNN Radio on Sunday.
“Something must have caused these birds to flush out of the trees at night, where they’re normally just roosting and staying in the treetops … and then something got them out of the air and caused their death and then they fell to earth,” Rowe added.

(Illustration found here).

Officials said most of the birds were red-winged blackbirds and starlings — found in a one-mile area of a town 40 miles northeast of Little Rock.

And 125 miles northwest of Little Rock, animal experts are trying to figure out what caused the death of about 100,000 drum fish along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River.
An ominous famous-last-words graph, also from CNN, talking to Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission:

Stephens said fish kills occur every year, but the size of the latest one is unusual, and suggested some sort of disease was to blame.
“The fish kill only affected one species of fish,” he said. “If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish.”

Biologists believe the bird deaths were stress-related from either fireworks or weather and are unrelated to the fish kill near Ozark, Stephens said.

Meanwhile, still in Arkansas, another unexplained oddity: More than 500 measurable earthquakes have occurred in central Arkansas since September, and it’s unknown if they’ll stop anytime soon, seismologists say.
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey say they ranged in magnitude from a barely noticeable 1.8 to a very noticeable 4.0 temblor recorded Oct. 11, CNN reported Friday.

A little strange — 2011 might be a bit different.

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