Fact Vs. Conspiracy: What Killed The Blackbirds?

The reporting on this event has been almost as weird as the events themselves. Everything from an article by CNN yesterday saying that mass deaths were ‘normal’ to interviews with fringe conspiracy theorists giving air to a wide range of hooey. Read the heartbreaking facts and then some of the more bizarre theories here. Our bottom line? The planet, and the animals that we share it with, are are showing signs of stress in ways that are getting more alarming. – Global Animal

Vancouver Sun, Brad Frenette

ARKANSAS – Last week, Arkansas was hit by two seemingly mysterious phenomena. First, thousands of dead fish washed up on the banks of the Arkansas River, not far from Ozark. According to the Chicago Tribune, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 fish may have perished. Then, on December 31, 100 miles away in Beebe, Arkansas, thousands of birds — some 3,000 grackles, blackbirds and starlings — simply dropped out of the sky, dead. And if those two events (and images of workers in gas masks and Hazmat suits collecting dead birds) wasn’t enough to put conspiracy theorists on high alert, the news on Monday that 500 more dead birds had been found on the side of the road in Louisiana would have.

The scientific explanation came swiftly, as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission tried to get out in front of any conspiracy chatter by positing that a disease outbreak was responsible for the fish deaths. The state’s Game and Fish Commission reported, after examining some of the blackbirds, that the animals “showed trauma” and that the birds had “hit something very hard and had hemorrhages.” There was talk of fireworks or lightning startling the birds en masse, causing them to flee, but to stay low — thereby flying into houses and other obstructions — and noting that blackbirds have poor night vision.

Authorities are not yet speculating about Monday’s discovery in Pointe Coupee Parish, La. — the 500 carcasses were found along the side of highway, some facing down, some on their backs, wings spread — but State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour told the Advocate that mass bird deaths have happened in the past due to “disease, starvation and cold fronts where birds can’t get their body heat up.” He also remarked that 500 deaths at one time is unusual.

Unfazed by these suggestions, the internet has lit up with alternative theories.

Noted conspiracy theorists Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones penned a piece speculating that “secret government testing” is responsible for the fish and bird deaths. Writing on Prison Planet.com, the duo states “Scalar weapons that can artificially manipulate the environment could be responsible for the mass die offs. We know for a fact that over a decade ago the U.S. Military Industrial Complex was aware of and involved in the testing of such technology.”

On CNN last night, Anderson Cooper wanted an expert to discuss the bird and fish deaths from an “end times” Christian perspective. So he called actor Kirk Cameron, a born-again Christian, for his point of view. The former Growing Pains actor admitted he wasn’t “the religious conspiracy go-to guy” and admitted that “it’s really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with … some kind of an end-times theory…. People get all excited about Nostradamus prophecies, 2012, and, of course, biblical prophecy has really been a topic of fascination for thousands of years. So I think people … love to define codes and signs of future events and see if they can decipher them before anybody else. But birds falling from the sky? That has more to do, I think, with pagan mythology and the way that and the directions that the birds flew told some of the followers of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them. But I think people just have a fascination with the religiously mysterious.”

The community board at conspiracy site godlikeproductions.com has been active in the past few days as well, with several users predicting that the bird and fish deaths will be followed by a massive earthquake. The site is also keeping an ongoing tally on bird and fish deaths across the USA.

Meanwhile, satirical “news” site World Wide News jokingly plays into another theory: “The U.N. Panel on Extraterrestrials spoke to WWN off-the-record (thanks, Dr. Baneesh) and said that the fish kill was ‘absolutely part of the alien invasion that is underway and that will continue to 2015.'”