February 1, 2011
Why Are Birds Falling From the Sky? (OT)
The ground truth about this week’s bird deaths in Arkansas and elsewhere.
Photograph by Bjorn Larsson Rosvall, AP
Published January 6, 2011
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. (See pictures of the Arkansas bird die-off.)
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.