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Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Why did 4,000 dead birds drop from the sky in Arkansas?

By Alexandra Petri

In Arkansas on New Year's Eve, 4,000 blackbirds suddenly and mysteriously fell dead from the sky.

There are so many great aspects to this story. There's the fact that they cited "a preliminary report conducted by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission." I'm sure the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission is very capable, but I feel like it was in no way prepared for this call. "You say 4,000 birds just spontaneously fell out of the sky and died?" I picture the guy on the end of the line asking. "Have you consumed any substances lately that you feel might be relevant?" When they finally figure out what it is, the two guys who usually make up this commission suddenly have to figure out what on earth they are supposed to do with four thousand dead blackbirds (bake approximately 200 pies? Disappoint approximately 200 kings?).

Their report suggested the cause of this mass demise was a "sudden and massive trauma." But here are some other reasons:

  • Birds saw Justin Bieber, hyperventilated, died.
  • Birds accidentally read opening chapter of Snooki's new book, mistaking it for an actual book.
  • Birds saw Snooki. Snooki is a basilisk.
  • Fatally depressed by Dick Clark on Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve.
  • Plague punishing Arkansas for failure to observe biblical commandments not to allow cattle to graze with other kinds of cattle (Leviticus 19:19) or wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19).
  • Angry Birds turns out to be a horrific, Enders Game-esque trick with sobering real-world consequences.
  • Forgot how to fly. If I were a bird, I would constantly worry that this would happen.
  • Birds' son came back from college with a lot of piercings, announced he was majoring in folklore and mythology.

  • Bird failed to get worm, has been lying to wife about its ability as a worm-winner, worries it has been accidentally raising a cuckoo, accidentally worries three thousand other birds to death.
  • Birds flew into Arkansas's glass ceiling.
  • Pharaoh of Arkansas really needs to let Israelites go.

By Alexandra Petri  | January 3, 2011; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, Top Lists, Worst Things Ever  | Tags:  Arkansas, oops, spooky  
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The fumes from the ditches filled with human sewage killed them.

Posted by: veerle1 | January 3, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Check the Earth's magnetic field... I think there may be a problem with the Earth's core, which generates the magnetic field that birds use to navigate and regulate other aspects of their lives...

Posted by: karichards | January 3, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

And what does this suggest about mankind’s ability to equally withstand internal or exogenous shocks that come and go? After all if birds and fish that have been around for millions and millions of years are coming to peril how are we as humans to withstand an unlikely series of humans suddenly falling dead whilst walking down the sidewalk?

Posted by: iamandami | January 3, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

wasn't there a tornado in that region not that long ago? perhaps it did not touch down in Arkansas but perhaps the tornado in Missouri suspended some object long enough to slam into the birds.

Posted by: anonymous3 | January 3, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I've heard that there recently a lot of fish have turned up dead in that area.

Also heard that some 500 = minor earthquakes have occurred around Guy, Ar., which some speculate is related to hydrofracking in the Fayetteville shale play.

White County, which is where Beebe, Ar. is located, is one of just 6 Ar. counties in the Fayetteville play. Anyone who has seen Josh Fox's Gasland knows how many concerns are being raised concerning the effects of natural gas recovery through fracking.

Given that red winged blackbirds do not fly in flocks, and also don't fly very high, the idea that they were collectively assailed by say hail or whatever, rings as less true to me.

But around hydrofracking areas, where waters are often poisoned, and wells despoiled, dead animals are a common sight. Did these birds succumb to some of the lethal effects of fracking? It's worth looking into.

Equally important is more investigative reporting on the effects of hydrofracking in general, not only on animals, but also on humans. The evidence is arresting. All so we can go shirtless in January in our 80 degree homes.

Posted by: lindsaycurren | January 3, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Tea Party humor: only 50% of the birds fell. They were hoping the other 50% would do all the work for them.

Posted by: baldinho | January 3, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

The birds and fish committed suicide after they found out the Redskins didn't make the playoffs.

Posted by: 20yrskinfan | January 3, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I think they must have passed through a giant Darrell Issa fart cloud.

Posted by: taonima2000 | January 3, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

► The birds were killed by "Gasland" producer Josh Fox so he could blame it on hydrofracking.

► Arkansas is being punished for violating Deuteronomy 23:1 and 23:2 by electing Rand Paul.

► The birds heard that 16-year-old Justin Bieber wrote an autobiography, and died laughing.

► The bird read Petri's iPhone alarm glitch column, and died laughing.

► The birds read the rest of Petri's columns, and died trying to fly to Alaska be in a TV show.

► The birds were stunned unconscious by the concussion from fireworks, and died when they fell to the ground.

Posted by: divtune | January 3, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The reference to Clark was out of line. Lets see how you look after your stroke. You got no class

Posted by: jimbobkalina1 | January 3, 2011 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The Central/Northern Arkansas area is one of the most heavily chemtrail sprayed locations on the planet. There is also a rather large HAARP base that is located right around the Missouri-Arkansas border at the very south central Missouri/north central Arkansas border region. Start your google engines!

Posted by: steverogers1 | January 3, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

jimbobkalina1 wrote: "The reference to Clark was out of line. Lets see how you look after your stroke. You got no class"
Hey, that's out of line. Petri was a pretty good writer before her stroke. You got no class talking about it.

And Dick Clark was absolutely perfect. Even his hair still looks great. The birds would rather be dead than have to watch that other guy with the phony, blow-dried hair.

Posted by: divtune | January 4, 2011 12:12 AM | Report abuse

First things first! The night the birds and fish came up dead in multitudes in Arkansas there were tornadoes and this we know. Now depending on how far away and the timing and locations of these natural events of tornadoes on New Year's Eve,there is a good possibility we are NOT looking at a disease but a natural phenomenon.Where wind kills every thing in it's path and some times even sucks water from rivers and ponds there is a greater and more explainable possibility that we are looking at a natural occurrence. Winds and currents alike can carry people,animals,and personal effects for miles from the sites of the actual natural disaster and it has been done. The likelihood of that many birds and fish to have died all in one blink of an eye is very unusual and can be explained as can everything else in life. It is my belief that the tornadoes may have killed the birds and once the winds died down and the updrafts were gone they began to fall from the sky like hail would fall from being too heavy to be carried any further.The fish may have been sucked out of the water by a water spout/tornado and landed down stream miles from the natural disaster. Stranger things have happened. Cows have been known to fly two miles away and end up in a driveway unharmed while houses were destroyed across the street and the other side of the street was unscathed.Common sense will tell you this is not a cause for serious alarm. If disease killed them how did every other flying creature survive and not the black birds.They said there seemed to be no sign of damage to the birds but yet they died. I suspect they had the air squeezed out of their lungs by the pressure of a tornado. Remember what it does to your ears for those of us who remember or know what a real tornado sounds like.Same thing with animals. Being subjected to this type of trauma would leave little trace if any because birds are small and so are fish.For each unsolved mystery there is some clue and a logical answer.Think about it.

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Posted by: EmergencyResponse | January 4, 2011 1:48 AM | Report abuse


North Carolina


Kent Island, MD
Wales UK

Posted by: steverogers1 | January 4, 2011 3:27 AM | Report abuse

People do not know just how much government is killing and polluting our food,water and air supplies with their laboratory concocted poisons. The first thing that came to my mind when I read this article was government sprayed "CHEMTRAILS" Most people have no clue that the government is doing this.

Posted by: simmonr | January 4, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

When I woke up this morning, I had it figured out. Come on guys. A murder of crows died. Duh! The only question is who murdered them.

Confucius was right. "Man who go to bed with 'problem' wake up with solution in hand."

If everyone sleeps on it, tomorrow someone will tell us who done it. But it won't be me. I saw a "chemtrail" above my house today, so I won't be alive much longer.

Posted by: divtune | January 4, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Milton McCullar,
BEEBE street maintenance supervisor
made a statement that rules out ALL
of the supposed causes.
One of his people received a call about
the birds falling from the sky,
and they were still raining down when he arrived. So much for running into something.

Posted by: spottedowlstew | January 4, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Government researchers are still investigating. Meanwhile, the Democrats have proposed a tax increase on the rich that they say will save more birds from certain death.

Posted by: tulsa_dave | January 4, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

karichards wrote - Check the Earth's magnetic field... I think there may be a problem with the Earth's core, which generates the magnetic field that birds use to navigate and regulate other aspects of their lives...

This is a viable possibility. From Dec. 16th 1811 to February 7th 1812, around the Arkansas area, there were seven earthquakes of magnitude M6.0-7.7 occurring and 200 moderate to large aftershocks in the New Madrid region between December 16, 1811, and March 15, 1812: ten of these were greater than about 6.0; about one hundred were between M5.0 and 5.9; and eighty-nine were in the magnitude 4 range. Nuttli also noted about eighteen hundred earthquakes of about M3.0 to 4.0 during the same period.
Since it was roughly 100 years ago and these things tend to have a cycle, it is possible that the ground is preparing for another round of hard hit earthquakes.
Should the earths core be effecting this some how, maybe the birds and fish are the first to notice it. The question I would have to ask is if something similar was reported way back then. Those kinds of records aren't as come though.

Posted by: dodgegirl1030 | January 5, 2011 2:05 AM | Report abuse This Haarp data (back grounds noise) for the same time of dead birds...!!

I am not expert.. but I wanna know what is this drop in same time ???


Posted by: attanew | January 5, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Mutant strain of avian flu is my guess. If you haven't yet gotten your flu shot, now might be a good time....

Posted by: Nashvillain | January 5, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Have you spent much time in Arkansas? They probably died of boredom.

Posted by: vailmcc | January 6, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Without a doubt the funniest thing I've ever read from WaPo. This is great, guys. I don't often get Snooki, Basilisk, and Biblical plague references all in one blog post.

Posted by: chadreese | January 6, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Why Did 4000 Dead Birds Drop From The Sky??

Because they were dead!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: kenhexit | January 6, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Someone guessed gassed, caused by hydraulic fracturing. It's pos. I believe NASA has another explanation. Collateral damage from the testing of countermeasures, radio beams that will be used to shield us from the barrage of electromagnetic plasma balls that NASA says will hit our atmosphere around May 2013. It is quite feasible that the solar flare discharges will destroy virtually every telecommunication satellite in space, and fry the power grid, leaving us in the dark, literally.

Posted by: davidm617 | January 6, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

If birds and fish all die we will see a rise in insect population and a loss of food to the many nations depending on fish as a staple in their diet. THIS IS A WARNING! Blood is thicker than dollar bills and as long as our leaders focus on selfish gains for the few, the whole will suffer. I think that March will bring the Rapture of people to the "Heaven" plane. We have no idea of how many people will deserve this gift from God to the unselfish masses deserving of it. Hundreds of millions? Billions? If you wantonly know that what your doing is putting others in jeopardy because of their ignorance your a pig, living off the essence of pristine behaviors. This is just an opinion but comes from a sign, an omen - you better think about it.

Posted by: peaksofpikes | January 7, 2011 7:01 AM | Report abuse

"Why did 4,000 dead birds drop from the sky in Arkansas?"

I'm going to have to go out on a limb here and guess that it was because they were dead and thus could no longer fly. I mean, wouldn't it be a lot more unusual if 4,000 dead birds *didn't* drop from the sky?

Posted by: chazzzer | January 7, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Answer : The birds believed the global warming alarmists and thought they no longer had to fly south in the winter.

Posted by: dahlonegadean | January 7, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Their report suggested the cause of this mass demise was a "sudden and massive trauma.""

Sounds like asphalt poisoning to me.

Posted by: tarlington1313 | January 7, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Why did 4,000 dead birds drop from the sky in Arkansas?

How simple could it be? Dead birds can't fly...

Posted by: kilodevildad | January 7, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I think it's interesting that the writer turns to scripture for explanation of the devastation with insinuations of a biblical type plague or God's judgement...hmmmm?

…makes you wonder (maybe more truth than realized)?!

only eternity will tell for sure

Posted by: lwilliams416 | January 7, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I think that lwilliams416's interest is delightfully easy to engage. Alexandra is fortunate to have such readers.

Posted by: bobsewell | January 7, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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