Dead birds fall from sky in southern US

Officials are investigating why more than 1,000 birds –
most of them dead – fell out of the sky in the US state of Arkansas on New
Year’s Eve.

The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission said it began
receiving reports of the falling birds at about 2330.

By midnight, more than 1,000 red-winged blackbirds had
fallen in one area of the city of Beebe.

The birds could have been hit by lightning or
high-altitude hail, said AFGC ornithologist Karen Rowe.

About 65 dead birds have been sent off for scientific
analysis to determine the cause of death.

It does not appear as though the birds were poisoned, Ms
Rowe said.

Severe weather over Arkansas could be the cause of the
mystery deaths “Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved
them falling out of the sky, it is unlikely they were poisoned, but a necropsy
is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin,” she said.

Tornadoes swept through Arkansas and neighbouring states
on 31 December, killing seven people.

However, the AFGC did not say whether the blackbird
deaths could also be attributed to the storms.

City authorities have hired a specialist waste-disposal
firm to collect the dead birds from gardens and rooftops, and dispose of them.