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January 3rd, 2011
07:41 AM ET

Fireworks may have sparked massive blackbird deaths, Ark. official says

(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. The birds - most of which were dead - were red-winged blackbirds and starlings, and they were found within a one-mile area of Beebe, about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said. Birds fell over about a one-mile area, the commission said in a statement.

So what led to the mysterious mass blackbird deaths? This morning, Keith Stephens, spokesman, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, tells Kiran Chetry and Jim Acosta why local New Year's Eve celebrations or weather may be to blame.

Filed under: Environment
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Archie

    fireworks? sonic booms and plane wakes? no chance why? would be thousand of historical cases before now. posion?? no chance, they would die at differnt times no all instantly, you couldnt do that if you tried, tornado??? even funnier, no why? no other debris.

    a microwave pulse could kill both the fish on mass and the birds during different tests, a bit like EMP but with a slightly stronger result.

    The result will show poison, and because 99 percent of americans are stupid they will believe whatever they are told. after all, even their dummy reporters were listing to the roosting story,yeah sure birds roost in the air spread out over a town all the time. Only in america, believeanythingtheyaretoldville

    January 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  2. curious

    Poor night vision of black birds in the dark ...hmmm... glad to hear we still have dark skies in cities and towns especially since they crashed into house and poles .... people must have been wrongly celebrating the day of darkness or a blackout instead of a New Year full of light.

    January 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  3. Hawaiian Asian

    If Fireworks are a supposed cause to this event, than why has no other states experienced this situation.

    January 6, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  4. cathy

    some of your comments are really STUPID, like humans don't need nature. GET REAL. We humans are DESTROYING nature, and yeah, go ahead and call me a treehugger or whatever, but without nature, whether you like it or not, HUMANS WILL NEVER SURVIVE without the natural world, so start treating the other creatures with respect, instead of acting like your stupid fun & games is more important.. Some people are SO IGNORANT.

    January 5, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  5. SpookySr

    "WILL – January 4th, 2011 12:24 am ET- The cause is obviously environmental. Here in Texas we have a largely unregulated natural gas drilling industry whose drilling sites regularly release large quantities of methane into the atmosphere. I'm not saying it was definitely gas but I would look for this kind of cause and effect."

    That's EXACTLY what it was (IMO). Hydraulic fracturing drilling through saltwater injection is causing temblors in Guy AR and fissures all up and down the Fayetteville Shale Line. Bebe AR is only 49 miles SE and there are plenty of lakes ponds and rivers all up and down Rt 167. A fissure must have opened up causing methane (CH4) release killing the birds through a mid-air secondary explosion. Fireworks was initial explosion. Was this near Bebe City Park? Ozark AR is 125 miles awy but SAME story – METHANE is the culprit. Which company? Try stock symbol: SWE.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  6. angela

    fireworks !!!!!! I don't think so. it's a little deeper then that.

    January 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  7. Nas

    I saw a few birds dead next to each othere while i was driving on the way home passing thru Sugarland Texas. I did not check to see if there was more.

    January 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  8. Vette guy

    Fireworks?? no way!! I live in SW Florida and have heard the three rapid sonic booms from the space shuttle on approach many times. The three sonic booms cover most of central and south Florida, they are very loud and at times we can "feel" them. The noise from a shuttle launch is beyond your imagination. Every night Disney sets off a huge fireworks show with noise comparable to shock and awl in Iraq. I guess the birds in Florida must be super birds because they just don't fall from the sky no matter how much noise we make. Maybe they were just lucky it wasn't a flock of Candian Geese, that would hurt.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  9. lo lo

    were did this happen?

    January 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Marcel

    This is an Angry Birds situation: Too many people tried to play it in real life.

    January 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  11. chantell condon

    omg. i can't believe that

    January 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  12. Kent

    Are you kidding? Fireworks? That is the most lame retarded cover story I have heard of. Airplane landing patterns? Nope, Tornado? No, that doesn't explain the dead fish.

    I am really curious as to what the real story is. I wish someone there could independently have the birds examined.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  13. WILL

    Beebe, Arkansas as it turns out is home to a major gas drilling waste reclamation company.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  14. WILL

    The cause is obviously environmental. Here in Texas we have a largely unregulated natural gas drilling industry whose drilling sites regularly release large quantities of methane into the atmosphere. I'm not saying it was definitely gas but I would look for this kind of cause and effect.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  15. damien

    you guys succ go to

    January 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  16. damien

    fire works did this go fireworks

    January 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  17. No One Important

    And now, they're saying:

    Around 2,000 red-winged blackbirds, as well as ducks, fell to their deaths over a 1-mile area of Beebe, Arkansas on Friday night.

    Ducks also. . . .so add ducks, a water foul, to the red wing blackbirds, who live around water, like marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and 100,000 drum fish. . . .

    Still think this isn't related to a water incident?

    January 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  18. JimG

    ONE species of bird? ONE species of fish? This is freaky!

    January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  19. Sara

    In other news, Arkansas has changed its labor laws to officially recognize witchcraft as a profession.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Carl

    Those birds are heros! Happened during the firework-like shelling of Fort McHenry too. The dead birds confused the British, allowing our fledging country to survive. Francis Scott Key memorialized the birds in the Star-Spangled Banner but there was a conspiracy to cover it up by the Free-Masons along with the Skull and Crossbones society. Each star in the flag actually represents a gross of birds lost in battle. In this latest episode, the heroic birds drove off enemy flying saucers until Elvis and government agents from area 51 could arrive.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  21. Surgeon

    That was the infamous "road kill" bomb...Arkansas residents having a big cook-out Saturday.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  22. sirjonthethurd

    If these were Acme fireworks, and the Coyote is behind this, then I would not want to be the Road Runner right now. He should definitely form an alliance with Bin Laden and hide.

    Unless of coarse the Coyote launches the fireworks above a cliff, and the tip breaks off the cliff, and he falls off the side, only to meet the same doom as the 5000 birds and 100000 fish.

    Of course the Road Runner will be a dummy and stand in, and the actual Road Runner will be safe in a cave connected to Dialysis machines. Road Runner Win!

    January 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  23. No One Important

    The birds died sometime the nite of December 31. . .(they were discovered the following morning.) The drum fish were discovered on December 30th, by a tug boat 125 miles away.

    Birds can leave a "ground zero" area, whereas, a drum fish cannot. So, using the drum fish body location, and bird flight, compute the decomposition rate of the dead fish (prior to floating) as well as the rate of flow (if it's not a stationary body of water, which I assume it's not if there's a tug boat on it), compute the speed of the water carrying a dead fish body – and the flight speed of the birds, you could probably come up with a reasonable estimation of where "ground zero" would be, or the initial point of poisoning, and track backward through the different estuaries which feed the main point of poisoning.

    You don't have 2 species, both water related species, die within hours of each other (Dec 30 and Dec 31) in the same state, and still believe they're not related. . .

    January 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  24. James

    I bet it was wake turbulance from aircraft inbound to either Davis or LRAFB. Take a look at LRAFB's ILS RWY 27's approach plate. It arcs west of Bebee and turns inbound almost right over the town (radial 077 inbound). Altitude also looks right. They would be descending from 3,000 ft AGL down to 1,800. Wake turbulence sticks around for tens of minutes and would pretty much make any flock "non-flyable". Poor birds wouldn't have a chance.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  25. Barbara Kilpper

    Why do people not understand the damage fireworks do to birds? It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

    We should ban this stupid practice.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  26. mtc

    The black bird deaths were probaly the result of getting caught in a tornado funnel that did not touch down on the ground. Would also explain their proximity within one mile around the town.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  27. No One Important

    Right, and the 100,000 drum fish only 125 miles away? In the same state?

    Notice, "red winged blackbird" – what kinds of birds are these?

    "Look for Red-winged Blackbirds in fresh and saltwater marshes, along watercourses, water hazards on golf courses, and wet roadsides, as well as drier meadows and old fields. "

    Right, a bird that lives near water, marshes, etc., dies off, and a massive drum fish die off only 125 miles apart. That's not a coincidence, and they're not unrelated.

    They need to look for a horrendous spill. Like a spill of perchloroethylene. ("perc" – dry cleaning fluid)

    Vapors cause dizziness, headache, slieepiness, confusion, unconsciousness, and possibly death.

    "Perc" also sinks. It does not really combine well with soil or water, and when gets into aquifers, it sinks to the bottom. So if you had a spill of large magnitude, the vapors could easily kill that many redwinged black birds, and as it sunk in the water, it would displace the water, killing the drum fish which is strictly a bottom dweller.

    The two species that have "water" in common, only 125 miles apart in the same state have a massive die off? This isn't unrelated at all. . . .

    January 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  28. Govt Lies

    And pigs fly, oh wait Weather balloons did it.

    Come on people the cover story was not thought out, something is up in Arkansas; first birds, then fish, swarm of earthquakes, and tornados.. And fireworks caused this??? NOT!

    January 3, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  29. xD

    this reminds me of the movie The Core! global meltdown everyone!! hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husbands cuz 2012 is gonna rap3 everybody out there!

    January 3, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  30. Jauquiene

    I agree with the ridicules fireworks excuse being a really out there explanation. But between this and the unexplained fish deaths something of deep concern is going on in this enviroment to which people need to pay careful attention. Fish and birds are both vulnerable species, what next be dropping dead there?

    January 3, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  31. nancy

    Good Riddens I say.

    January 3, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  32. andyetiwonder

    i wish i lived in Arkansas..grab one of those birds, and freeze it...

    some how get the testing done yourself, but wait until after the other test results come out and see if we were told the truth?

    January 3, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  33. TJ

    Fireworks?? Global warming?? Seriously? Can you not put 2 and 2 together and realize it is related to the Tornado that occurred only 30 miles away in Cincinnati Arkansas.

    January 3, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  34. Sean

    Why were birds flying around just before midnight?

    January 3, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  35. Nan

    You have got to be kidding me! 5000 birds drop from the sky because of fireworks? A bit of a stretch don't you think? Unless of course they were the ACME brand fireworks from the road runner cartoons.... Please do not insult our intelligence. Fireworks have gone off for years upon years, upon years... Never heard of a flock of anything dropping dead from them. They are going to have to come up with something better than that.
    And I suppose the 100,000 fish all got a hold of the same bad pyrotechnics.

    January 3, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  36. ILuvAlGore


    January 3, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  37. mother of four

    Fireworks? Really? If this is true, then why don't hear about huge flocks of birds falling dead every fourth of July?

    January 3, 2011 at 7:58 am |