LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CBS/AP) — Some say it was a storm; others argue fireworks are to blame. Whatever the cause, one thing is certain: residents of Beebe, Arkansas never expected 2011 to start like this.
Scientists are wondering whether fireworks or poison may have caused 3,000 birds to fall from the sky over this small town outside Little Rock, just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Residents of the small town of Beebe awoke to find dead blackbirds on homes, cars and lawns. Cleanup crews wore protective suits, gas masks and rubber gloves as they spent the holiday
weekend gathering the carcasses.
The director of Cornell University’s ornithology lab says the most likely suspect is violent weather. He says thousands of birds were probably asleep in a single tree when a “washing machine-type thunderstorm” sucked them up into the air, disoriented them, and even fatally soaked and chilled them.
A forecaster says rough weather had hit the state earlier Friday, but the worst of it was already well east of Beebe by the time the birds started falling.
Researchers in three states will be examining the remains of the birds for clues.
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