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2,000 Blackbirds Fall Dead in Central Arkansas

On Friday, December 31, 2010, a flock of approximately 2,000 red winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky and dropped to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Mayor Mike Robertson reported to the Associated Press that he has enlisted 12 to 15 Environmental service workers, armed in environmental protection suits, to clean up the carcasses on Sunday.

Robertson also reported the birds fell over a one mile area over Beebe and a resulting aerial survey revealed no birds were found elsewhere. There is no official cause of the the birds' deaths though officials believe that disease and poisoning were not involved because birds found on the ground were roosting and seemingly fine.

Karen Rowe of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offered on Saturday that the birds "could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail" because their carcasses showed physical trauma. Rowe also offered that perhaps fireworks set off by New Year's Eve partiers may have contributed to the birds' deaths by causing the flock undue stress.

Carcasses will be sent to laboratories operated by the Livestock and Poultry Commission and the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin to determine the cause of the unusual occurrence.

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