If you live in Arkansas, 2011 certainly kicked off in an Apocalyptic fashion. On New Year's Eve, over 3,000 red-winged blackbirds - dead as the night - rained down upon the tiny town of Beebe (Pop. 4930). The bizarre event has ornithologists scratching their heads, the media making cinematic references and the locals confessing all sins. And having thousands of dead fish pop up on the same day elsewhere in Arkansas … well, it's certainly not helping.
“Looks like some sort of phenomenon happened.”
--Becky Short, Beebe City Council, quoted in The New York Times
As for the birds, poison has been ruled out as a cause of death and experts are now theorizing that loud noises caused the birds to become disoriented, slam into buildings, hemorrhage and die. Also, blackbirds have notoriously bad night vision so they were handicapped to begin with.
In one news video, a reporter found one blackbird alive. He was walking in circles, not making any sound and couldn't seem to fly. It was very disturbing and quite sad, not to mention creepy. The massive death of any species is rarely a good sign.
And if the Dead Bird Hailstorm weren't enough, New Year's Day in Arkansas also revealed 80,000 to 100,000 dead fish (freshwater drum) along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River. Though there's about 200 miles between the fish and birds, the timing is downright eerie.
State wildlife officials believe the fish kill is disease-related, as it only affected one species. Other possibilities include changes in water temperature (the area was experience a cold snap) or low oxygen levels. Lab tests are pending.
Can we get Bill Clinton on this somehow?
Other animal-related signs that the End is rather nigh:
Last May, a plague of frogs descended on a motorway in northern Greece causing accidents and blocking the road for hours. Officials claim the frogs had vacated a nearby lake looking for food. Another theory is afoot, however.
In the Bible, y'see, Egypt teemed with frogs after its rulers provoked the divine wrath – the second of the 10 plagues prophesied by Moses. Any mention of financial meltdown in the Bible? If so, then let's keep tabs on Greece, shall we?
Meanwhile, China is waging a very real war with locusts. This past summer, authorities fought massive swarms as they destroyed thousands of acres of grasslands and farmlands. Authorities blame abnormal weather. To their credit, the Chinese are fighting Nature with Nature, sending a ravenous Duck Army to gobble up the little bastards.
And in other Apocalyptic Animal News, I must credit blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, who was properly revolted by a company that sells beer in bottles made of dead animals. You have to see it to believe it. The fact that the company, BrewDog, cheerfully claims to be using roadkill offers no comfort.
No matter what one makes of all this craziness, I know one thing for sure: We're all going to need a bigger umbrella.
And some help.
BlogHer Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns, Proprietor, ClizBiz
More from living