January 4, 2011

More Dead Birds Found In Louisiana

Louisiana state biologists are trying to figure out what killed about 500 birds that littered a quarter-mile stretch of highway in Pointe Coupee Parish.

The birds included red-winged blackbirds and starlings.

They were found on Monday along Louisiana Highway 1, about 300 miles south of Beebe, Arkansas, where over 3,000 blackbirds fell from the sky three days earlier.

Authorities said that examinations showed those birds suffered internal injuries that formed deadly blood clots.

Louisiana state biologists are sending some of the birds found at Labarre to laboratories in Georgia and Wisconsin for testing.

The birds dropping from the sky in Arkansas, followed by the death of thousands of fish nearby in the Arkansas River, have raised interest on the Internet and other places.

Experts said on Monday that celebratory fireworks were likely responsible for the Arkansas bird-bombing, even though they admit that it is unlikely they will ever determine the cause.

"They collided or were hit by something that caused hemorrhages or bleeding, internal bleeding or bruising," Karen Rowe, an ornithologist at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, told CBS News.

Some speculated on Monday that a bout of bad weather was to blame.  Others have said that one confused bird could have led the group in a fatal plunge. 

"There was probably some physical reason, but I doubt anyone will ever know what it was," said Thurman Booth, the state's wildlife services director.

The birds were the second mass wildlife death in Arkansas in recent days.  Last week, about 83,000 dead and dying drum fish washed up along a 20-mile stretch off the Arkansas River, about 100 miles west of Beebe. 

Wildlife officials said that the fish deaths are not related to the dead birds, and because only one species of fish was affected, it is likely they were stricken by an illness.  Full test results could take up to a month.

Red-winged blackbirds do not fly at night because they cannot see where they are going. 

CBS reported that residents reported hearing loud fireworks just before the birds started hitting the ground.


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