Good grief! First we had the story of the 3000 – 5000 dead birds in a one mile area in Arkansas…and now we have another report of 500 birds dead on Louisiana. What the heck could be going on? Flockmaggedon??
Here’s my take: I agree that the New Year’s Eve incident in Arkansas was probably the result of fireworks startling a sleeping flock and that birds either ran into each other or into houses and trees resulting in collision trauma. The reports say that the collision injuries were in the front of the birds–as if they flew hard into something. If the trauma was caused from their fall from the sky, then the necropsy would show the trauma on different sides of each bird, as each bird would fall and hit at different angles. So, barring that the red-winged blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds and starlings flew into an invisible alien spaceship, I think the fireworks theory is plausible.
Let’s take a look at some images of blackbird flocks. I went into Google and searched for “blackbird flock” and “starling flock.” They’re flocks can look similar:
I did not take any of these photos. These are all flocks of blackbirds. This gives you an idea of what those roosting flocks can look like. If you’ve never seen a winter roost starling flock or a blackbird flock, it is a strange presence in the sky. It reminds me a bit of the eeriness of an Aurora Borealis. Here’s another flock photo:
Again, I did not take this photo, but I found via Google Image Search. Look at how tightly packed those birds are. That is a group out during the day, in the wide open. They can move and swirl and function more as a whole without flying into each other in the daylight. At night, in a full blown panic, that many birds will run into each other. If they were roosting, they were probably low to the ground to begin with. If fireworks were going off overhead, they sure as heck would not fly up, they would try to fly below it. In the dark and in a panic, they’d run into each other, trees, poles and buildings.
Now, here is a photo of the dead blackbirds in Louisiana:
This photo is from The Advocate. Keep in mind how tight those blackbird flights can be. Now, note the blurred vehicles in the above photo. See the bus? I wonder if semis also come down this road. I think a flock of blackbirds flew hard into a large vehicle and died. It’s happened before. I remember reading about a case in the 1990s. It doesn’t even have to have happened at night. It could have happened at dawn or dusk. The startling factor for the blackbirds may not have been fireworks, but a Cooper’s hawk. This probably would have gone unreported had it not been for the Arkansas story.
Mysterious things happen to large flocks of birds,they don’t get quite the media play as this story did. Here’s a story you may have missed about several hundred turkey vultures found floating just off the Florida coast near the Keys from last November. It’s sad that we lost a lot of blackbirds. Is it cause for concern and should we try to find out the reason? Yes! Should we panic for the coming apocalypse? No.
And I end this with a starling flock video: crazy stuff:
Last night on Facebook people were posting vague links other possible die offs, but I could find no news organizations reporting on them.