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Fireworks blamed for US bird deaths

01-04-2011 13:35 BJT

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Experts are blaming fireworks for the mysterious deaths of thousands of red-winged blackbirds in the US on New Year's Eve.

They say the birds that fell from the skies in a small Arkansas town may have been literally frightened to death.

The birds fell in a one-kilometer area around Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found beyond that area.

The little bodies rained down onto rooftops and sidewalks and into fields. Several hundred thousand red-winged blackbirds have used a wooded area in the town as a roost for the past several years.

Officials who visited the area found no dead birds on the ground, effectively ruling out poisoning or a disease epidemic. An ornithologist said the birds showed physical trauma, and speculated that new year's fireworks could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

Local residents back up the theory with reports they heard loud fireworks just before the birds started falling.

Red-winged blackbirds are among North America's most abundant birds, with between 100 to 200 million nationwide. Bad weather has been blamed for earlier bird deaths in Arkansas.

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