The birds were all found within a one-mile radius of the town of Beebe.
Keith Stephens, a spokesperson for the the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said the birds displayed evidence of trauma in the breast tissue and lots of internal bleeding. All major organs were normal, however.
He cited a preliminary report issued by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.
“Further tests will be done to rule out other causes, but the birds suffered from acute physical trauma leading to internal hemorrhage and death. There was no sign of any chronic or infectious disease,” that report said, according to the AGFC.
Experts say that this type of trauma is often caused by lightning or high-altitude hail storms. A strong storm system moved through Arkansas on Friday.
Officials also believe that New Year’s Eve fireworks may have been responsible for the trauma in the birds, while some believe that secret government testing may have been to blame.
“The birds obviously hit something very hard and had hemorrhages,” said Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the game and fish commission.
“Initial examinations of a few of the dead birds showed trauma. Whether or not this trauma was from the force of hitting the ground when they fell or from something that contacted them in the air, we don’t know,” she said.
- Shower of dead birds: apocalypse or accident? (newscientist.com)
- 4 and 20 blackbirds, and 3,000, dead in the sky (thenewstribune.com)
- 2,000 Blackbirds Fall Dead in Central Arkansas (brainz.org)