Celebratory fireworks. That's what officials in Arkansas say likely sent thousands of discombobulated blackbirds into such a tizzy that they crashed into homes, cars and each other before plummeting to their deaths in central Arkansas. While plausible, new reports of birds falling from the sky in Louisiana raise questions about whether something larger is at work.
While reporting on the thousands of birds dropping out of the sky in Arkansas, the New York Times offers information on a seemingly unrelated incident near Baton Rouge, LA:
Meanwhile roughly 500 dead birds were found on Monday outside New Roads, La. Those birds were much more varied, with starlings and grackle in addition to blackbirds, and a few samples picked up by James LaCour, a wildlife veterinarian with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, did not show any signs of trauma, he said.
"Hundreds of dead and dying birds littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish on Monday as motorists drove over and around them," the local paper The Advocate reports. And although many will be concerned about the die-off, State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour told the paper he wasn't alarmed.
“Underlying disease, starvation and cold fronts where birds can’t get their body heat up” have caused similar occurrences “in various species over the years,” he said.
U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Paul Slota shared LaCour's anti-alarmist attitude. According to Slota, USGS records shows there have been 16 events in the past 30 years involving blackbirds where at least 1,000 of the birds have died seemingly all at once.
“These large events do take place,” he told the Advocate. “It’s not terribly unusual.”
Officials have not determined the cause of death. Samples have been sent away for lab testing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.