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Science Idle

Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead 577

Posted by samzenpus
from the silent-spring dept.
Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."
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Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead

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  • fools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eyenot (102141) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Monday January 03, 2011 @02:08AM (#34741460) Homepage

    Hail, lightning, fireworks would have caused said unfound trauma.

    Theory: caught in a hellacious wild updraft. Lifted into highest levels of the atmosphere where they suffered insufficient oxygen and/or insufficient pressure -- vessels and or lungs burst.

  • by ridgecritter (934252) on Monday January 03, 2011 @02:22AM (#34741512)

    through being trapped in storm-associated updrafts. These can rapidly reach high altitudes and cold temperatures (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/594363/thunderstorm/49573/Updrafts-and-downdrafts).

  • by eyenot (102141) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Monday January 03, 2011 @02:33AM (#34741552) Homepage

    My friend descended from a Siberian tribe. His grandmother died in Siberia because she happened to go out wearing just two or three layers less than you "should". See, it's cold enough over there in my friend's ancestral village that the windows are plastic. Glass would shatter. And despite this, sometimes you want convenience. Like if you're American and you want to get milk, you're tempted to use the SUV to drive two blocks away and save five minutes of walking. Well, she saved five minutes changing out of two or three layers of clothing and suffered from it, due to a tragic weather event. OVer there, the Siberians get these tiny tornadoes that only last a few seconds. They're invisible. But inside of them, the temperature isn't just eighteen below zero, it's like thirty-eight below zero. And the wind is reintroducing that temperature of air at a rate of sometimes around a hundred miles an hour, but confined in a very tight vortex of only three or four feet across due to the nature of convecting currents and their abilities to maintain micro systems, something not very well understood. Being in that tiny cold whirlwind for even a few seconds can cause really horrible physical traumas. She was struck dead by hypothermia by an invisible weather phenomenon, struck dead by a tornado as big around as her sucking down temperatures from the upper atmosphere that were cold enough to lower her core temperature down below dead in only seconds. This sort of thing is a reality, and we can assume that there is plenty under the sun that science doesn't quite comprehend. If this doesn't turn out to be a low-pressure or mega-updraft incident of some kind, then I think we can all safely assume it is a pathogenic or local effect. A bacteria or virus. A radioactive or electromagnetic pulse. At any rate it's anomalous and anybody studying it with interest is probably more intelligent than the average scientists who, based largely on risk assessed values of research grant award futures versus college loan payment rates, side squarely with what is pre-established and therefore never learn anything new and fail to ever address the slightest anomaly whether it challenges their worldview or not.

  • Fall dead? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Master Moose (1243274) on Monday January 03, 2011 @03:56AM (#34741822) Homepage

    How do we know the fall didn't kill them.

    Perhaps they all fell from the sky alive, but it was impact with the earth that got them? You people too quick to jump to conclusions - all of you!

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday January 03, 2011 @04:08AM (#34741858)

    It can't be a pathogen - there's no way that it would kill such a large amount of birds at exactly the same time. Instead it would have acted over hours/days following a normal distribution, and the area of dead birds would be far greater and not fairly evenly spread over a narrow area.

    While my medical degree makes me an expert in humans, not birds, it's reasonable to assume that this bird population is suffering due to 1) the bird overpopulation mentioned by local residents in the news reports and 2) the colder than normal weather. I cannot speculate as to the cause other than ruling out silly things (pathogens, aliens, etc), but I think the birds were on the limit of survival, and some localized event happened that pushed a small group in a certain area a little too hard, causing them to die suddenly.

  • by johnhp (1807490) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:10AM (#34742030)
    Also, in the same area, is the town that's had like 500 earthquakes in the past six months or something. A lot of people think that the hydraulic fracturing method of gas drilling caused the earthquakes. Maybe it also caused some gasses to vent. Not to mention the New Madrid Fault is in the area where they're doing that shit... they're probably going to kill me.
  • by Confusador (1783468) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:24AM (#34742252)

    True. What blows my mind is that once upon a time, some adventurous soul left their home to make a better life and found it in Siberia. I can only imagine they were fleeing a war.

  • by Splab (574204) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:36AM (#34742282)

    Most of us need proteins, also at least one amino acid is from eating meat afair. And for all you veggies out there, yes I'm very well aware that you can achieve the same protein through vegetables and you can take nutrition supplement to get the amino acid, but frankly I'd rather have some damned animal suffer for my pleasure than to hurt my self for their well being.

    At least I appreciate their sacrifice.

  • by puhuri (701880) <puhuri@iki.fi> on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:53AM (#34742324) Homepage
    GP sounds like a nice troll. Unless you replace air with 1000-fold more dense material it is impossible to cool a person to hypothermia in few seconds, no matter what is temperature and wind speed are. A human can spend comfortably tens of minutes at temperatures well below 200K even naked (or swimsuit) and this is used to heal pains in rheumatoid arthritis. And as one who lives in north, I can imagine the amount of snow taken air with wind over 30 m/s. Invisible in your dreams.
  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Monday January 03, 2011 @07:06AM (#34742356)
    I experienced something like this on a glacier, a kind of 'dust devil' hit our party, except it wasn't invisible as you say, there was enough fresh powder around to make it clear and we had nowhere to go. It got VERY cold fast and the winds may have been 100kph briefly as well as white-out conditions. I don't know if the wind chill alone made it so cold, but as most of the group had most of our cold weather gear off despite just below freezing temperatures (reflective snow/ice in bright sunlight makes you actually kind hot).. we came pretty damn close to having a serious problem. I would assume that like katabatic winds, such a anti-tornado forming over ice would be powered by descending cold dry air, not ascending warm moist air, and would prefer clearer drier conditions to storm conditions.

    This would explain the temperature drop and I imagine anyone or any animal exposed could be in a life threatening situation. I did read that there were tornadoes in the Beebe, Arkansas area on new years eve and this was the leading theory? The blackbirds just got hypothermia, nicely fitting the lack of obvious trauma.

    If blackbirds in my part of the world are anything to go by, they don't flock much, at least not in large numbers like other birds. So several thousand blackbirds falling out of the sky in the same area is just strange to me, but blackbirds elsewhere could behave differently?
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:37AM (#34743906)

    Let me blow your mind some more. I visited Siberia when the iron curtain was still drawn down. Common people living in Siberia (Irkutsk, Bratsk) were much happier and enjoyed more amenities such as good food and leisure activities than moskovites. If anything, Irkutsk almost felt like a Swiss village. I understand things have changed for the worse since then.

  • by Steeltoe (98226) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:59AM (#34744124) Homepage

    This is intellectual masturbation.

    "Fact."

    You probably share more genes with alot of Indians and Africans than with your unrelated neighbour.

    All facts and statistics are always abused to suit our own prejudices and preconceptions, even when not intended to, especially then.

    If you can't eat vegetarian, you have probably not had the correct vegetarian meal. Many who "go veggie" have absolutely no clue what kinds of food you must eat.

    Also, you must take the time for the body to clean itself out. You may feel sick for days, weeks or even months, and then you'll be fine. Drinking alot of water between meals etc helps.

    Educate yourself instead. If you personally can't stand it after having tried the real thing, that's fine. Personally, I would have had a hard time if not for friends who went veggie with me over a period of a few years. With friends however, it was fun and empowering. I know not everyone is so lucky.

    It seems to me a bit intellectualish to try it yourself for a short time, with no friends and no support. Like learning martial arts from a book. It's not the real thing. If you want an informed opinion about it, you should of course interview a trusted practitioner instead of building your own houses of cards.

  • by damaged_sectors (1690438) on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:22PM (#34749366)

    We are not fast enough to catch the animals that we eat.

    Maybe you aren’t fast enough, lard-ass, but don’t go saying “we” as if you get to speak for the entire human race.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistence_hunting [wikipedia.org]

    And I’d have a hard time killing and dissecting that hunk of meat because (if you believe evolution) it took away my claws and fangs around the same time it gave me the brain I needed to fashion tools such as knives and utensils to take their place. Personally I’m okay with that trade-off.

    As someone who occasionally agists horses - I often get owners coming and asking if I can "help" catch their horses - in 20 acre paddocks!. Horses think idiots "chasing" them are a great game... but seriously, as someone has spent time on stations where you can walk for week without seeing a fence - there is no land animal humans can't outdistance, or (potentially) outsmart. Motorbikes, quads, and helicopters is what you use to rounds up mobs of cattle - not single animals! You don't have to run - just walk you lazy, stupid, embarrassments to your ancestors. And I don't mean prehistoric ancestors - go back one century and you'd all have major problems. Sheesh - if you need to carry water for a half hour walk and think 3 hours a week in a gym makes you "fit" then, the, aw... just get off my lawn! ;-p

    I've been a vegetarian (who kills things) for 40+ years - I'm not political about it (I run sheep and cattle), eat what you want. That you can live healthily without meat, or with very little meat is a fact of life for much of the world's population. To say that a particular diet is the only diet for everyone is just foolish.

    If I had my "druthers" I'd farm roos instead, but I can't. Would I get more protein per acre if I didn't run cattle - possibly, but it's a moot point. I don't make the demand - the consumer does. And just to confuse the issue - most of the (western) "vegies" I meet a pale, pastey, embarrassments. Just like some of the pro-veg arguments in these threads.

    As for killing animals - I kill, skin, and clean rabbits all the time - no knives - just the same methods our hunter gatherer ancestors used (I suspect). A dog, my hands, and something sharp. It's not hard - dog grabs rabbit, I grab bunny by ears, dog drops rabbit. Snap rabbit neck == dead rabbit. Pinch skin in middle of rabbit's back, tear tiny hole with something sharp (stick, barb of wire), insert fingers, tear and tug - leaving a skinned rabbit. Head pulls off, back leg splits gut rabbit - check for parasites - feed dog (2 minutes, tops). The only difference between that and our ancestor is that my dog get all of it. My point being that our association with dogs is what meant we no longer needed to use of "fangs" and teeth to kill - or all a lot of our hearing and scent abilities. Oh, and to those who propose I'm cruel and disgusting - get a life princesses - and make sure you wash your hands when gardening while you're at it. :-)

    Natural, un-natural arguments are pointless - to paraphrase De Sade "if it wasn't natural, we couldn't do it".

    Nice sig - sent that troll my love last night, and a quick response this morning. :-D

    And where the hell are the posts about the fucking story folks? (sigh)

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