So unless you’ve been in a bunker over the last few days you have probably heard about the over 1000 (some estimate 5000) birds who died suddenly in Arkansas and then the sudden death of around a 1000 birds yesterday in Louisiana. In case you are just coming out of that bunker, here’s a link to the story:
The story, sans the title, is actually a pretty balanced examination of the two events without some of the hyperbole I’ve been seeing on cable news coverage. Yeah, I know, cable news blowing something out of proportion, couldn’t happen, yes that was sarcasm.
On a parallel note there have been several major fish kills as well in the last few days but the answer that came out about these is very accurate. The Maryland kill is highly likely to be caused by temperature fluctuations and because the Arkansas kill was limited to a single species it is very likely to be disease related. During the winter as fish school up in deep pools a disease can spread very quickly and produce mass, single-species kills.
The birds are a much bigger mystery however, the necropsies of the birds seem to indicate blunt force trauma causing massive internal injuries. This is highly suggestive of birds being disoriented and crashing into solid structures, however if you see how far the birds were stretched it seems odd that somehow they hit solid objects and then flew a quarter-mile. I believe it is much more likely that the Arkansas birds were killed when they encountered a hail storm, this seems the most likely cause. Hail at high altitude could have hit a large flock and killed thousands of birds, this would not be completely unusual.
In fact in January of 2007 there were near simultaneous large bird die offs in both Australia and the United States. There were also large storm systems within a couple of days of the deaths, indicating that perhaps the birds were pummeled by the incoming front prior to it dumping precipitation to the ground. You can read more about the die offs three years ago at the following link:
Finally, hell we’d be remiss if we didn’t scream, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” That was fun! And I think we have to leave the door open for more sinister possibilities from these kills. Could this be a test of a new biological or aerosol dispersed chemical weapon, very possibly so, in fact in Arkansas they immediately did air sampling to check for this very thing and found nothing, stay tuned as information comes in on this we’ll keep you posted.