Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents
The deaths of 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas is one of several recent instances of mass animal deaths across the world.
January 7th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents

Five thousand blackbirds in Arkansas. One hundred pelicans near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Three hundred doves in Italy. Seventy bats in Tucson, Arizona. Thousands of fish in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil and the United States.

Google is now hosting a map of incidents of mass animal deaths around the world. Google Maps' distinctive blue balloons indicate where the deaths took place. Click on a balloon, and the map provides you with a link to a news report on the incident.

As of Friday afternoon, there were about 30 cases pinpointed on the search engine's mapping site, most of them in the U.S. and Europe.

Some might say it's getting spooky - and not just by conspiracy theorist standards - but experts tell CNN Radio that theories of UFOs and secret government weapons are, naturally, far-fetched.

In the case of the Arkansas blackbirds, wildlife buffs have said that a loud noise or other event may have precipitated the blunt-force trauma that killed the birds. Of all the notions about their deaths, Susie Kesielke, curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo, believes the theory that fireworks startled the birds is the most plausible.

“Blackbirds roost communally in the wintertime, and they sleep more soundly than most animals,” Kesielke said, adding that the birds were shocked awake and extremely disoriented.

Jonathan Sleeman, director of the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, said his office has investigated 16 mass bird deaths in the past 20 years.

“This is a bit unusual but not unique,” he explained. “Most of the cases involved pesticides or poison ingested by the birds, but trauma has also been found to be the cause of mass bird deaths."

Good to know experts aren't buying that Armageddon is upon us. Offering even more comfort is the blog Universe Today, which suggests that the deaths aren't so much strange as they are "a symptom of the digital age where news travels faster than you can say, 'The End is Nigh.' "

It cites a Time magazine article that details several strange mass animal deaths and wonders "if the internet age allows us to connect the dots where there are none to be connected."

As for connecting dots, the blog suggests that the map on Google could be laid on top of a "current global oil exploration map to test the hypothesis that the deaths could have been caused by ground-penetrating tomography."

In any case, it seems level heads are prevailing for now - at least until scads of humans succumb to spontaneous combustion.

“Until the sky turns red and there’s a plague of locusts, this event is not that unusual,” Sleeman said of the blackbirds.

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Filed under: Animals • Arkansas • Google • Science • Technology
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. The Profit


    January 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James

    Reading this comments, I am stunned at how incredibly stupid people really are.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Miss Molly

    January 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sally

    Somthing to say about aliens. Given the sheer size of the universe its as close to a statistical impossibility that they don't exist as you can get. Now all the people thinking aliens are sport hunting our birds are saying "Yeah!" But the same logic also dictates that we would be relatively un unique and therefore not that interesting to alien invaders, and were probably to far to travel to in any lifeforms life span. Even if said aliens could travel at light speed. But that is a huge assumption to say they have anything like that in the first place. If aliens do exist, they could be as simple as cingle cell bacteria. Now, that being said, lets try to discount every other solution before we start looking to the extraterrestrial.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dike

    The experts are real busy reading all your suggestions and to come up with a cover-up theory.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dike

    Loud Noise killed them hahaha we are talking about big bang theory here?

    January 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chase

    @The Profit: I don't mean to be a spelling Nazi, but it' "Prophet."

    January 7, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bird

      I think he was being facetious. Wow using that word made me soooooo dizzy.

      January 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    Sally - regarding aliens. I'm not saying aliens "targeted" the birds. I am saying the birds collided with a very large object that was suspended in their flight path. The object that millions of people witnessed over Phoenix in March 1997 was over 1-mile wide. If the object was further obstructed from view by some sort of propulsion or magnetic field, the birds would be even more likely to hit it because they can't see it. All of these birds collided with something and then fell to their deaths. All of the autopsies show that so far. There doesn't have to be "living aliens" in these spacecraft. They can be unmanned probes, or even computer based life forms that don't have biological life requirements that would allow them to travel billions of years at less than light speed.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      The problem with your theory is that millions of fish have also died. Did they collide with your aircraft as well? ...

      January 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ficheye

    The HAARP array in Alaska already has several patents on file by scientists who want to turn the atmosphere into a weapon by pumping giga joules of electricity into the air. So, it might actually be wise to wear a tin foil hat AND live in your moms basement, as Mark C so condescendingly reminds us.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • WHODAT!


      January 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CRG

    This needs further investigation, but it is not terrorism or the end of the world.. Birds do not normally die all at once like this although thousands of dead fish wash up on the shores of lakes and oceans every year. Some of this is caused by contaminates, lower oxygen levels at certain times of the year, and red tide. In other cases certain fish spawn and then die.

    We need asumptions backed by solid evidence and research not guesses or lunatic notions as to why this occurred. Unfortunately, the Government seems unconcerned, so we may never know what happened to the birds.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Richard

    I hate to say this cause I have been laughing up until now but old articles on bird and fish migration from credible sources articulate the relationship between subtle chemical sensors in species of bird and fish which allow them to hone in on the earth's magnetic field and control their patterns of migration. Could something be happening to the earth's magnetic field? I am not a scientist and or a doomsdayer but....also the field has been drifting about 3 degrees in the last several years-(reported inprior increase over the rate of drift over many decades...a friend at work pointed out she noticed the geese formations didn't appear as tightly coordinated as they usually do a couple weeks ago. A coincidence? Let's hope it passes soon.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sally

    @Eric: I understand that, and that wasn't directed at just at you. And I'm certainly not making fun of anyone's beliefs. I'm simply saying we'll come up with a more definitive answer using the Scientific Method, of which speculation is not a step.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chase

    I have to agree with Sally and Richard, there are other things to discount before we jump to seemingly rash conclusions. Farewell CNN, I have somethings to read. I'll be back if I can find any relavent credible evidence as to what this is or "really" is.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thinker

    man i figured this story would bring out the religeous fairy tales. its all silly, I think I know what it is. There are hundreds of UFO's hovering in the atmosphere (invisible to us and birds) and the birds are running into them. OK, I said it. Go ahead trolls have your fun.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    They killed eachother.

    January 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Seriously... Am I the only one to notice that, in all the pictures and online videos, 90% of the dead birds were male? Why do you think that is? These birds got into a conflict over dwindling resources (resulting from the fish kill wich was part of the ecological damage resulting from the oild spill). That and and mating rights.

      January 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Wikipedia knows all... Here is what Wiki had to say about the Redwinged Blackbird:


      Backlit flockThe Red-Winged Blackbird can be very aggressive while defending its territory from other animals and birds. It will attack much larger birds, such as crows, ravens, magpies, birds of prey and herons if they enter. Males have been known to swoop humans who encroach upon their nesting territory during breeding season.

      January 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
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