Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Apocalypse? Scientists think not.

2011 got off to a wild start with a rumor of a pregnant First Lady Michelle Obama (which is blatantly false). But more bizarre and unbelievable was news of birds falling from the sky in sites in Arkansas and Louisiana. On New Year's Eve, roughly 5,000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings fell from the sky over a mile of land, in Beebe, Arkansas. That night was filled with sounds of birds smacking into each other, hitting homes, people and the ground.

A veterinarian told NBC preliminary tests from several birds show they died of massive trauma to their vital organs. Speculation suggested fireworks were to blame, but investigation continues. Lightning strike or high-altitude hail are a possible cause as strong storms moved through the South Friday night. Down in Labarre, Louisiana, roughly 500 blackbirds, starlings and grackles were discovered on a rural road 300 miles south from the Arkansas site.

Wildlife officials in both states have sent birds to Georgia and Wisconsin for testing but initial findings indicate these are isolated incidents, not evidence of doomsday. "Mass bird die-offs can be caused by starvation, storms, disease, pesticides, collisions with manmade structures or human disturbance," said Greg Butcher, Audubon's director of bird conservation.

Elsewhere, 100,000 drum fish popped up dead over a 20-mile stretch over the Arkansas River. It appears to be a natural occurrence (possibly disease) affecting one species of fish, a spokesperson of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told CNN. If death came from pollutants, it would have affected all the fish.

Check out CNN video below for a visual:

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