Aflockalypse Solved

Blackbird Mass Deaths: New Years 2010 to 2014 – Solved

(c) David Dilworth

Shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve (2010-2011) between 3,000 and 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe (Arkansas). Most were dead on the ground but some were living but dazed.” – Wikipedia

Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird

What could cause rapid death of hundreds of birds and leave no physical trace and no hint of any disease – several years in a row ?

There are many conjectures (lightning, disease, pollution, stress, cars) but no solution even comes close to fitting all the facts.

Lets start with agreed upon facts.

  1. It is widely agreed that the birds were startled into flight by fireworks exploding at New Year’s Eve celebrations. This identical phenomena occurred several New Years in a row.

2. The temperature that night was well below freezing; at nearby Little Rock Air Force Base it went down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. The birds were examined and found to have died of “blunt force trauma” – they suffered from “internal bleeding and blood clots in the body cavity.” Autopsy ruled out chemicals/poisons, infectious disease and gunshots.

4. What is rarely reported is that mass die offs of animals is not a rare occurrence. According to the U.S. Geological Service, there are more than 150 reports of mass animal die offs in the United States every year “and that’s probably a dramatic undercount.”

David’s Hypothesis:

Birds startled into flight by fireworks of New Year’s Eve celebrations and then flying into sub-freezing air – could have frozen to death while flying, or could have frozen enough to lose their ability to maintain or control their flying.

Freezing would cause them to fall a hundred feet or more, hitting the ground hard and giving them what was indeed death by blunt force trauma.

This hypothesis is consistent with all reported facts including —

  1. Other bird species suffered the same fate at the same time including Starlings and Grackles.
  2. Some birds found on the ground were dazed but alive.

Aflockalypse Mystery Solved.

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Wikipedia article: 2010–11 midwinter animal mass death events

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