Just before midnight on New Year's Eve, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 birds—mostly red-winged blackbirds and starlings—fell out of the sky in Beebe, Arkansas. It's unclear if they died in the air or lost the ability to fly for some reason and died upon hitting the ground.
Now, with the news that another 500 birds fell in Louisiana yesterday, the mystery is deepening.
One theory that the authorities appear to be leaning to is the fireworks on New Years Eve scaring the birds and they ran into each other, along with buildings and houses causing their demise. Since there were no fireworks in the area where the second mass of dead birds fell last night, this would not hold water for both cases. The authorities are still leaning towards some loud noises scaring the birds and the birds ran into each other and buildings, killing the birds. The birds that were examined all had trauma to their bodies and wings, according to Fox News live.
The media is all over the story, despite there being very little solid information from the experts about what caused the phenomena. But the public is concerned. The story accounts for three of Google's top ten "Hot Searches" right now.
Adding to the frenzy of speculation, 100,000 dead fish also just washed up on the shore of the Arkansas River. That event seems almost certainly unrelated to the falling birds, but it fits into the apocalypse narrative, so it's been mentioned in many of the same media stories.
It's all a little unnerving, but we're waiting to hear what the scientists say before we start the countdown to Mayan Ragnarök.
UPDATE: Regardless of what caused these particular events, this is probably the important point to keep in mind:
[Audubon Society] officials stressed that birds as a whole faced a far greater threat from broader environmental problems than any headline-generating mass death incident. "Far more concerning in the long term are the myriad other threats birds face from widespread habitat destruction and global climate change," Melanie Driscoll, [the Audubon Society's] director of bird conservation in the Mississippi river region, said.