BEEBE, Ark. (The Blaze/AP) — It’s happened again in a central Arkansas town. Dozens of dead blackbirds rained down on Beebe for the second New Year’s Eve in a row, after thousands fell from the sky last year.
Local ABC affiliate KATV showed a radar image that apparently showed a large mass over Beebe a few hours before midnight Saturday. By 7 p.m., residents were calling in to report “birds on the streets,” Beebe Police Officer John Weeks said.
“We started shutting down fireworks,” he said. “We’re working on cleaning up the birds now.”
He said police were working with animal control workers and others to remove the birds and determine a death count.
“We’re not sure if they’re going to continue to fall throughout the night. I can’t tell you,” Weeks said.
Scientists last year said the loud cracks and booms from celebratory fireworks likely sent 4,000 birds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths last New Year’s Eve. The birds landed on roofs, sidewalks, streets and fields. One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.
Beebe animal control worker Hearst Taylor told KATV the reason for the bird deaths this year isn’t yet known.
The blackbird die-off, coupled with tens of thousands of dead drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, flung the state into the national headlines and drew conspiracy theorists and filmmakers to the town about 30 miles northeast of Little Rock that shares Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe’s last name.
“It’s just got to be a pain in my career,” Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew said.
Prior to this New Year’s Eve, Ballew said he wouldn’t be surprised if people sit out on their front porches in case the winged creatures fall from the sky again.
“I guess we could have an annual blackbird watch,” he said with a laugh. “People can just bring their umbrellas, open them up and walk through the neighborhood and hope they don’t get hit.”
Watch an ABC report from last year’s mass bird die-off: