Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2011

Southern Blackbirds

Some residents in an Arkansas town must have felt transported to an earlier age of superstition when, over the first weekend of the new year, thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky. Like a grim omen, the same phenomenon occurred two days later, with some 500 blackbirds dropping dead in Louisiana. Scientists have puzzled over what killed them, ruling out disease or some form of poisoning. Instead, initial autopsies revealed internal trauma and hemorrhaging, possibly as a result of some violent midair collision among the blackbirds, who tend to fly in very tight formations. They could have also been disoriented by a passing thunderstorm and waterlogged by its rainfall. In any event, EPA officials swiftly arrived on the scene, wearing gas masks and fully covered in hazmat gear while cleaning away the corpses. These blackbirds certainly won't be baked in a pie.