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January 8th, 2011

OK, this is getting spooky. Maybe.

We first heard about it when hundreds of blackbirds were reported falling from the skies in Arkansas–and the number kept growing, now estimated at about 5,000. But that wasn’t the only incident; among the mass sea and air deaths:

  1. the 5000 blackbird falling dead with physical trauma from the sky in Arkansas;
  2. not far away, hundreds of thousands of drum fish–but no other species–showed up also dead;
  3. 100 tons of dead fish washed up on the Brazilian coastline;
  4. 2 million fish dead in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland;
  5. 500 more blackbirds in Louisiana;
  6. a large number of dead snapper fish in New Zealand;
  7. hundreds of grackles, starlings, and robins fell dead in Kentucky, these with no signs of trauma;
  8. 40,000 velvet swimming crabs washed up dead near Kent in England;
  9. 50 Jackdaws fell dead on a street in Sweden, with no visible signs of damage.

Add to that the most recent case in Italy, where 8000 turtle doves fell to their deaths in a town, with blue stains around their bills.

Google is now mapping the mass deaths, which seem to include up to 30 incidences worldwide over the past several weeks.

Now, not all of these incidences seem really strange; a few dozen birds dying a a strain of bird flu in eastern Japan doesn’t seem too unusual. Which leads one to ask, is this really so unusual, or are we just noticing this more than we have in the past? The USGS says this is actually normal, with mass die-offs reported almost every other day, or 163 each year on average. Perhaps all this is is one story with an unusual twist making headlines, and then all the rest of the stories standing out because of the first one.

Occam’s razor suggests this is probably the case–we’re just paying attention to something that was ignored previously. That does not, however, stop the stories from raising some hairs on your arm (especially if you’ve seen the movie The Happening), or feeding conspiracy theories in those who live in a much more interesting world than the rest of us.

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  1. K. Engels
    January 8th, 2011 at 07:32 | #1
  2. Luis
    January 8th, 2011 at 11:51 | #2

    Erm… actually, nothing new in that report–it just says what people have been reporting from the start, that the birds were hit by something or died from hitting the ground. The lab which “solved” the problem didn’t give any evidence as to why they had the blunt force trauma. If they were hit by something, then what? If they died hitting the ground, then why did they fall? All the story reports is the same uncertain guess about fireworks noises starting them off, the same guess people reported from the first day, and no one still knows if it’s true or not. So for the story to so strenuously announce the “mystery is solved” is rather inaccurate.

    Not that I think there’s any conspiracy or horrific truth–it’s probably one of the noise theories or something similar–but I hate it when news articles have errors like that.

  3. K. Engels
    January 8th, 2011 at 11:59 | #3

    Just throwing that out there as something that was making the rounds with a little newer date that some of the things you linked to. If you want I can pretend to be Geoff and blame the whole thing on a sekrit muslin kenyan Barack HUSSEIN Islamic-Shock Fart-bama plot. 😉

  4. Luis
    January 8th, 2011 at 12:06 | #4

    Sorry, no criticism of you intended. I just can’t help myself when it comes to spotting and pouncing on badly written journalism.

    But I think you may have something–though I am finding it easier to blame the fact that all this started when REPUBLICANS took over the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES! The animal populations must have sensed the impending GLOBAL CLIMATE DISASTER caused by their sinister ideological bent and gone haywire!!! :-)

  5. K. Engels
    January 8th, 2011 at 12:15 | #5

    No problem. We’re all adults here (except Geoff). Just wanted to be clear that I wasn’t trying to post an “ah-ha, you’re wrong” news report or something like that.

  6. Ken sensei
    January 9th, 2011 at 04:53 | #6

    I agree this is spooky stuff.
    The USGS report indicates that birds/fish and other wildlife die in large numbers all the time. Sure, they eat the same things and share the same habitat, so that’s normal they would die of the same diseases or poisoning.

    But that does not explain why 5,000 blackbirds suddenly dropped from the sky within a one-mile radius. That indicates they all died simultaneously.

    The USGS has no explanation for that because we do not know of any force or technology capable of killing that many birds at once. *That* is worthy of a scientific investigation.

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