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US authorities investigate mystery death of 1,000 birds
01-03-2011, 12:05 AM,
#1
US authorities investigate mystery death of 1,000 birds
Quote:Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 black birds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said it received reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile (2-kilometer) area, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area.

Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma, and she speculated that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."

The commission said that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

Robby King, a wildlife officer for the agency, collected about 65 dead birds, which will be sent for testing to the state Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Wisconsin.

miss Rowe said that similar events have occurred elsewhere and that test results "usually were inconclusive." She said she doubted the birds were poisoned.

Officers estimated that over 1,000 birds had fallen out of the sky over the city before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were still alive when officers arrived. The blackbirds fell over a one-mile area in the city.

Mr King responded to the reports and found hundreds of birds. "Shortly after I arrived there were still birds falling from the sky," Mr King said.

Mr King collected about 65 dead birds that will be sent to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.

The AGFC has flown over the area to gauge the scope of the event. There were no other birds found outside of the initial area.

Miss Rowe said that strange events similar to this one have occurred a number of times across the globe. "Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail," Miss Rowe said.

Another scenario may have been that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area may have startled the birds from their roost. The birds may have died from stress.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8235842/US-authorities-investigate-mystery-death-of-1000-birds.html
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