Image Source: The Local.
Picking up on similar reports in the United States (which I blogged about here and here), a local news outlet in Sweden is reporting that residents in Falköping southeast of Skövde yesterday discovered dozens of dead jackdaws and pigeons.
(Updated list to May 29, 2011 at bottom of this post.)
According to the report:
While the fireworks theory is plausible, it doesn't explain why fireworks in the past haven't had similar effects; and it doesn't explain the death of fish.A county veterinarian has speculated that the birds that fell from the sky in central Sweden on Tuesday may have been frightened by fireworks, then run over by a car after landing on the road in the dark. Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, residents found 50 to 100 jackdaws on a street in Falköping southeast of Skövde. The incident echoed a number of unexplained incidents earlier this week across the southern US.
County veterinarian Robert ter Horst believes that the birds may have been literally scared to death by fireworks set off on Tuesday night.
"We have received information from local residents last night. Our main theory is that the birds were scared away because of the fireworks and landed on the road, but couldn't fly away from the stress and were hit by a car," he explained to The Local on Wednesday.
He added that they likely had difficulty orienting themselves in the dark and although they have received one report involving a vehicular collision with the birds, ter Horst believes they may have been hit by more.
"We will continue to look at whether there are other theories, but then we have to do an autopsy on the birds. The birds just now are in a car on the way to a laboratory in Uppsala. We don't know exactly what happened yet, but we will continue the investigation," he added.
ter Horst noted that he has also received some reports about pigeons, but the incident has happened too quickly to assume that it is related to the untimely demise of the jackdaws.
The site where the birds were found has now been blocked for a veterinary inspection of the birds. Emergency services had cordoned off the area earlier on Wednesday. According to Sveriges Radio Skaraborg, the[r]e are between 50 and 100 dead birds.
Anders Wirdheim of the Swedish Ornithological Society (Sveriges ornitologiska förening, SOF) believes the jackdaws likely were frightened in the middle of the night, then flew around in the dark and collided with various objects.
"Jackdaws spend the night in trees in large flocks. If they are frightened, hundreds of birds could take flight at once," he told TT.
Wirdheim noted that the affected bird species in the US are also those who spend the night in large flocks. He added that the birds' situation may have aggravated because they are weakened.
"This winter has been unusually tough and jackdaws may be in poor condition. That makes it easier for them to fly into different objects. There is very little food in the wild compared with previous years and I see dying birds every day," he said. ...
On New Year's Eve, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 blackbirds tumbled from the sky on an Arkansas town shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve. Separately, 500 birds plummeted to the ground 580 kilometres away in Louisiana on Monday and a Kentucky woman reported finding dozens of dead birds in her yard. Speculation on the causes of the US bird deaths has ranged from fireworks, the weather, noxious fumes or a "sonic boom." In addition, up to 100,000 dead and dying drum fish have washed up in the Arkansas River and tens of thousands of dead fish have been found in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
Addendum: the blogosphere as well as regular news agencies are fixated on these cases. There are similar reports swirling that name everything from Bird Flu, to fireworks, to earthquakes (see also here and here), to temperature changes, to environmental problems like pollution (such as the BP oil spill and related aerosol oil dispersant Corexit see discussion here), toxins or low oxygen in the water. Some conspiracy theorists are blaming the government, especially their favourite programs like HAARP, which is often held responsible for mysterious environmental events. The biggest and weirdest conspiracy theory, somehow possibly originating via Russia (here), surrounds the recent death of a US Government official: John P. Wheeler III's body was mysteriously found in a Delaware landfill on New Year's Eve (report here). Some of the religiously minded are of course pointing to their own sources and predicting the end of the world, while those curious about religious prophecies are following suit with Google searches. One reporter jokingly is calling this the aflockalypse. At any rate, there are additional reports (some confirmed, some not) of dead birds or fish in Chile, Illinois and Denmark and several other places around the world.
Local News Reports in Arkansas and Local Conspiracy Theories. Video Source: Youtube.
More Arkansas reports: Video Source: MSNBC.
"We're just waiting for the locusts to show up." CNN report on fish and bird deaths in Arkansas. Video Source: CNN via Youtube.
Claims of dead birds in Chile. Video Source: Youtube.
One conspiracy theory message board is making lists of locations where reports of dead fish and birds are appearing; another list is here. The blog Tin Foil Palace has recently collated reports on this matter here. Bear in mind that the internet will generate false reports and those will feed on themselves. This story could be more a portrait of how the internet works, than it is of any environmental disaster. I will update this list as the reports come up and hyperlink to reports from each place (no links mean the place has been mentioned, but I haven't located any confirmed reports - and some links are dodgy at best).
Latest Update for links below: 29 May 2011.
Kentucky (here, here, here, here, here)
Louisiana (here, here, here, here, here, here, here)
Arkansas (here, here, here, here, here)
Illinois (here, dead Canada Geese: here)
North Carolina (here, here, here)
Texas (here, here, here, here)
Tennessee (here, here, here)
Alabama (here, here)
South Dakota (here)
Florida (Pelicans: here)
Hong Kong, China
China (here, here; these links include unconfirmed comments about dead eagles in China)
Italy (dead doves: here, here, here, here)
Japan (here, here)
Sweden (here, here, here)
Chile (recent: here)
New Zealand (penguins and seabirds: here)
Canada (Manitoba: here, here, here; Quebec: here, Alberta: here)
Taiwan (here, here)
South Africa (dead African Grey Parrots: here)
Arkansas (here, here, here, here, here)
Louisiana (recent: here)
Maryland (here, here, here)
Florida (here, here, here, here, here)
Indiana (here, here)
South Carolina (starfish and jellyfish: here, here)
South Wales, UK (here, here)
UK (here, here, dead crabs: here; in Manchester: here)
Australia (here, here, here, here)
Haiti/Dominican Republic border (here)
Brazil (here, here, here, here; 2010: here)
Bolivia (2010: here, here)
New Zealand (here, here, here, here, here)
Canada (Ontario: here)
Italy (here, here)
Vietnam (here, 2010: here)
Philippines (here; May 2011 here; 2010: here)
Hong Kong, China (2010: here)
Netherlands (in Berkel: here)
OTHER DEAD ANIMALS
Arizona (dead bats: here)
Florida (dead manatees: here)
Wisconsin (dead cows: here)
Vietnam (apparently involving dead cows - animals not specified on this site: here)
Canada (dead seals in Labrador: here)
Aside from the reasons speculated upon and listed above, it looks more and more like temperature changes are the causes of at least some of these mass deaths; although that does not explain the traumatic injuries sustained by birds.
Latest confirmed reports as of early January 6. Image Source: The National Post.
UPDATE: As of January 8, Google Maps is tracking the mass deaths of animals here.
UPDATE: January 10, the Daily Mail ran a summary of all cases here. It also speculated on the causes of these deaths, including the rapid shift of the magnetic North Pole:
- Blue stain believed to be sign of poisoning or hypoxia - lack of oxygen that is precursor to altitude sickness
- Cold weather and overbreeding blamed for deaths of two 2million fish in Chesapeake Bay
- Disease behind deaths of 100,000 fish in Arkansas River
- At least nine incidents of mass animal deaths across the globe
- Hundreds of confused birds plummeted to their deaths in multiple locations in the U.S.
- Rapid movement of Magnetic North Pole towards Russia may have caused bird deaths
UPDATE: January 11, Natural News has a thorough timeline of mass bird and fish deaths running back into December and forward into January here. Weirdly, over time, it looks like the deaths are moving east to west, as is evident from the deaths moving from Arkansas to Texas, and this report which notes that fish deaths have reached Illinois.
UPDATE: Another fish kill reported in Florida, February 6, here. Hungary's Emergency and Disaster Information Service monitors floods, animal deaths, earthquakes, nuclear events, toxic hazards, terrorism and other disasters in real time on a map here. For February 1-7, it reports several epidemic and biological hazards along the east coast of North America, from New York City to Mexico. It does not offer comment on whether separate incidents are related; it merely tracks them. But each incident has extensive files of details. For example, the epidemic hazard in NYC on February 6-7 is a report of a return of cholera to the city, which has nothing to do with animal deaths. You can search for specific alerts here.
February 7: The speculative website Signs of the Times is connecting solar flares coinciding with the movement of the moon to recent mega-storms (e.g. Cyclone Yasi and a recent huge snowstorm that blanketed almost all of North America) in several parts of the world as well as shifts in the earth's magnetism (here).
It also carries a post that wonders if bird and fish deaths re related to the New Madrid fault zone in the eastern United States. It notes that the American disaster response department FEMA requested information on January 20 about emergency rations for 7 million people over 10 days in that region, apparently in anticipation of a large earthquake. Yet this request for information was later canceled on January 27, 2011. The report is here.
New Madrid Fault Zone on the right. Image Source: Signs of the Times.
From the post:
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently put out a tender or 'Request For Information' (RFI) for a LOT of emergency rations. The reason, in their own words, is: "to identify sources of supply for meals in support of disaster relief efforts based on a catastrophic disaster event within the New Madrid Fault System for a survivor population of 7M to be utilized for the sustainment of life during a 10-day period of operations"
Is there something they're not telling us? It's interesting to note that many of the recent animal 'die-offs' happened in the region of the New Madrid fault zone which stretches 150-miles (240 km) southward from Cairo, Illinois; through Hayti, Caruthersville and New Madrid in Missouri; through Blytheville into Marked Tree in Arkansas. It also covers a part of West Tennessee, near Reelfoot Lake, extending southeast into Dyersburg.
It's true that the area has been rocking and rolling of late with the the U.S. Geological Survey reporting, more than 500 measurable earthquakes in central Arkansas since September 2010. A magnitude-3.8 earthquake that shook north-central Indiana on December 30th 2010 was called "unprecedented". It was strong enough to actually cause cracks along the ground and it was felt in portions of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.