BEEBE – Results from preliminary testing released today by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Veterinary Diagnostic Lab show that red-winged blackbirds died from massive trauma on New Year’s Eve.
The trauma was primarily in breast tissue, with blood clots in the body cavity and internal bleeding. All major organs were normal and the birds appeared to be healthy. Gizzards and stomachs of the birds were empty.
According to the report, “Further tests will be done to rule out other causes, but the birds suffered from acute physical trauma leading to internal hemorrhage and death. There was no sign of any chronic or infectious disease.”
It’s not apparent what caused the bird’s unusual behavior, although loud noises were reported shortly before the birds began to fall from the sky. Blackbirds have poor night vision and do not typically fly at night.
Beginning at about 11:30 p.m., Dec. 31, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers received reports of blackbirds falling from the sky in a square-mile area of Beebe. It’s estimated that up to 5,000 birds fell before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were alive when officers arrived.
The AGFC flew over the area in a helicopter to gauge the scope of the event. No dead birds were found outside of the initial area of fallen birds.