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Fireworks revealed as a possible cause for Arkansas bird deaths

by Jorge Hernandez on January 4, 2011

A deluge of thousands of dead red-winged blackbirds greeted the small town of Beebe, Arkansas, New Years Eve night, and scientists believe they have found the culprit for the mysterious massacre. State officials say that the deaths were likely caused by a loud noise, possibly fireworks being set off to celebrate 2011, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Arkansas State Veterinarian George Badley says that the birds have notoriously bad vision at night, and tend to congregate in large numbers. Initial examinations of the dead animals found that many died of internal bleeding, and witnesses reported hearing loud noises just before the aviary rain. Badley believes the birds were startled by the noise and flew into houses and trees.

The fireworks theory seems to disprove other potential guesses, which had included lightning, hail and disease. The accident caused between 1,000 and 5,000 deaths, and left the 5,000 residents of the small town a little spooked.

"It just looked as if it had rained birds," Tracy Lightfoot, a member of the City Council, told The New York Times. "There's lots of theories running around. I have no idea. I just don't have a clue."

Even more unusual is that it was not the only wildlife-related mass death to hit the state of Arkansas over the weekend. Around 125 miles away from Beebe, hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up along the shores of the Arkansas River. Experts believe that the fish were killed by illness, as it was restricted to a lone species of bottom feeders.

"We don't believe it's environmental, because it would have killed a lot of other fish," Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission told the New York Daily News. "We have fishkills from time to time, it's not unusual."

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