Relax folks! Birds falling from the sky has happened before
U.S. and SWEDEN — With all the media hype and all of the tweets and posts on Facebook, it’s understandable that people would become fearful, even panicked, at learning that thousands of birds from two continents were falling from the sky last week and that masses of fish mysteriously died.
On New Years Eve some 5,000 birds feel to their deaths in Arkansas, and another 500 died in Louisiana (scroll down for more details.)
The week prior 50 to 100 birds died after falling from the sky in Sweden.
Fish by the tens of thousands died in several U.S. waterways.
People who didn’t know these things had happened before easily feared the unknown. They didn’t know that in 2007, the same thing happened in Australia and Austin, Texas. Scroll down for more details.
Finding dead birds – what some proclaim
It’s a tough thing to find even one little bird dead in your backyard, so imagine finding dozens. And imagine seeing hundreds or even thousands in your community. It would be downright scary, like something out of a horror film.
Some are proclaiming this is a sign of the times and that the world is likely coming to an end. Some have even set a date.
Twitter has been fluttering with tweets over the past few days with people sharing bible verses and talking of the doom and gloom facing mankind.
Scientists scramble to find logical answers.
Perhaps knowing birds and fish dying by the masses is not uncommon, and that it has happened before, may bring peace of mind to those who have been frightened as a result of all the hype.
The world didn’t come to an end in 2007, as some feared. There was no terrorist plot, no deadly disease killed off masses of the population, and life went on.
Hopefully people can relax and to see what scientific results tell us.
Though keep in mind that they may not tell us much because it could be that the birds, that spend the night in large flocks of hundreds and even thousands, could have been spooked by fireworks. That could have set off a chain reaction, with birds flying below their normal flight path and into buildings and trees.
What the experts are saying
Experts are saying, “Don’t worry about it.”
“Wildlife die-off of birds and other animals across the globe is a fairly common occurrence and it happens every year in numerous species all over the year,” Scott Wright with the National Wildlife Health Center said.
The Southeastern Coop. Wildlife Disease Study is examining some of the birds that died from the two states, Arkansas and Louisiana. They are running test from samples taken, and dissecting some of the birds.
Their Programs Director, John Fischer, said, “These samples then are used for additional tests including microscopic examination looking for bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungal organisms, and even toxins to evaluate potential causes of death.”
Fischer said a number of things could have caused the mass die-off around the New Year’s holiday.
Scott Wright from the National Wildlife Health Center said it could also have been a human intervention – like New Year’s Eve fireworks. “Human activity could have forced the birds off their nighttime roost, which is abnormal for these species, causing them to fly in large numbers into surrounding objects which happened to be people’s homes.”
“Whether it was fireworks,” the Associated Press reported, “fungus, a virus, or a parasites, scientists say there are plenty of explanations and there will be plenty more cases in the future.”
See video, left.
Here’s a recap of what’s happened over the past few days in the U.S. and Sweden:
- As many as 5,000 red winged blackbirds fell from the sky and died in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve – these are among North America’s most abundant birds, with 100 to 200 million nationwide, according to Cornwell Lab of Ornithology in New York
- Preliminary reports indicate birds suffered from blunt force trauma, likely a result of falling from the sky
- A state wildlife vet said underlying disease, starvation, and cold fronts where birds can’t get their body heat up have caused similar occurrences in various species over the years
- One theory is that violent thunderstorms might have disoriented the flock or even just one bird that could have led the group in a fatal plunge to the ground
- Five hundred bird carcasses were collected after falling to the ground in Louisiana on Monday
- Up to 100,000 dead and dying drum fish washed up in Arkansas River this week
- Wildlife officials say the fish deaths are not related to the dead birds, and that because mainly one species of fish was affected, it is likely they were stricken by an illness
- Tens of thousands of dead fish were found in Chesapeake Bay in Maryland – menhayden, spots, and croakers
- Wildlife officials blame the fish kill on the stress of cold water
- Shortly before midnight on Tuesday residents found 50 to 100 jackdaws on a street in Sweden, echoing the unexplained incidents in the U.S. earlier in the week
- A Swedish vet believes the birds were scared to death by fireworks set off Tuesday night
And here’s a recap of what happened in Australia and Austin, Texas in 2007:
- Thousands of crows, pigeons, wattles and honeyeaters fell out of the sky in Esperance, Western Australia, striking fear in many and puzzling scientists
- Wildlife officials were baffled by what they called a “catastrophic event”
- The country’s largest conservation group, Birds Australia, said it had not heard of a similar occurrence at the time
- At the same time, dozens of grackles, sparrows and pigeons dropped dead on two streets in Austin, Texas
- Authorities in Texas called the birds deaths a “catastrophic event” and emphasized the deaths had nothing to do with a severe storm
- They shut down city streets as police and fire crews checked the area for any substance that might be harmful to humans. They found none
- The incident was taken very seriously. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said there was no credible intelligence to suggest an imminent threat to the homeland or Austin at the time
- Vets in both Australia and the U.S. were unable to establish a cause of death, despite carrying out a large number of autopsies on the birds
So far speculations on the cause death of thousands of birds in the U.S. have ranged from fireworks, the weather, noxious fumes, or a “sonic boom.”
Read more in today’s National Geographic article.
Sources: Daily Mail, (2007 article), Washington Post (Sweden 2011), The Associated Press, ahrcanum.com