A mysterious rain of thousands of dead birds darkened New Year's Eve in Arkansas, and this week similar reports streamed in from Louisiana, Sweden, and elsewhere. But the in-air bird deaths aren't due to some apocalyptic plague or insidious experiment—they happen all the time, scientists say. The recent buzz, it seems, was mainly hatched by media hype.
At any given time there are "at least ten billion birds in North America ... and there could be as much as 20 billion—and almost half die each year due to natural causes," said ornithologist Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society in Washington, D.C.
But what causes dead birds to fall from the sky en masse? The Arkansas case points to two common culprits: loud noises and crashes.
"Right before they began to fall, it appears that really loud booms from professional-grade fireworks—10 to 12 of them, a few seconds apart—were reported in the general vicinity of a roost of the birds, flushing them out," Rowe said.
"There were other, legal fireworks set off at the same time that might have then forced the birds to fly lower than they normally do, below treetop level, and [these] birds have very poor night vision and do not typically fly at night."
So the firecracker is the murderer of birds???