Arkansas officials stumped as birds fall from sky

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - State wildlife officials were going door-to-door on Sunday in the town of Beebe, Arkansas, to collect dead birds after thousands of mostly blackbirds mysteriously fell from the sky.

Workers were searching Beebe, a town of about 4,500 people located 30 miles northeast of the state capital, to collect what officials estimated as between 4,000 and 5,000 birds which began falling from the sky late on New Year’s Eve and continued into the next day.

“It could be weather-related or possibly stress-related,” said Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “There were some fireworks shot off at midnight and it is possible that the birds were on their roost and stressed so bad that it could have killed them.”

The birds were still being collected from rooftops, trees and yards and will be sent on January 3 to testing facilities in Little Rock and Madison, Wisconsin.

Stephens said hail or lightning in recent days also could have injured the birds but he had seen no physical signs of injuries in the birds so far collected.

High winds and tornadoes struck Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, with the hardest hit area more than 150 miles to the west of Beebe.

Reporting by Eric Johnson. Editng by Peter Bohan