BY Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 01/16/2011 04:10:29 AM PST
All the signs indicate that 2011 is shaping up to be a banner year for the weird books.
Thousands of dead birds have fallen out of the skies in America, Italy, Sweden, fish have died for no apparent reason by the tens of thousands in America, thousands of dead crabs have mysteriously washed up in England, and a loosely-organized group of Christians are sure that Judgment Day will come on May 21st.
I'd say that was a pretty good start, wouldn't you? Residents of Beebe, Ark., woke up on New Year's Day to reports of 5,000 dead birds plummeting from the heavens, and other odd mass animal deaths have been reported worldwide. Some people suggested the cause was fireworks and the birds were literally “blown from the sky.”
I'll have to pass on that explanation. According to fish and game wildlife experts, a massive bird death is not that unusual. Newspapers and blogs are calling the phenomenon the “Aflockalypse,” a nice catchy name if you ask me.
Mere days after the 5,000 birds went crazy and dive-bombed terra firma at Beebe, 100,000 dead drum fish washed up along 20 miles of the Arkansas River less than 500 miles away.The experts called it a coincidence. They also were quick to say that pollutants/poisons were not involved in either case. That was without testing the carcasses. The bottom-feeding drum fish were the only ones affected in the river, which makes me suspicious of that claim.
Within five days of those two Events there was another case of birds falling out of the sky. About 500 lifeless birds dropped onto Louisiana's Highway 1 near Pointe Coupee. Officials with the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife noted that many of the birds showed signs, like broken beaks and wings, of violent injury that was not just the result of hitting the ground.
Perhaps these weird events are a coincidence. Conspiracy theorists might think otherwise. A third dead bird drop followed in Sweden days after the Louisiana event. “This is a classic example of freak events coinciding,” said Petter Boeckman, a zoologist at the Norwegian Natural History Museum, in an interview with Reuters.
Right after the Swedish event, 40,000 dead crabs washed up on the coast of Kent, England, leaving experts baffled again. And in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, a woman found dozens of dead birds in her yard. That was followed up by reports from Italy where 8,000 turtledoves fell dead out of the skies and left authorities wondering why they had a strange blue stain on their beaks.
Much closer to home, 100 birds were found dead south of Geyserville clustered on the ground off of Highway 101 on Jan. 8.
The reports of mass animal deaths around the world are galvanizing self-appointed prophets to proclaim the apocalypse is upon us. The unlikely confluence of factors may be tantalizing, but so far I haven't read anything that actually explains them.
For now, I'm putting these reports on my weird watch list of animal species dying in mass numbers for no apparent reason.
If Marie Exley, a 32-year-old Army veteran with two tours of Iraq, is right, I won't be around to see the year's end. Exley is convinced that Judgment Day is just around the corner. May 21st, to be specific.
She and a loose coalition of Christians are spreading the word. They've put together radio broadcasts and websites, independent of mainstream churches, to get their message out. Exley and others believe the Bible warns that May 21st will be the end of the world.
Frankly, I'm not expecting explanations for all of these strange events. Improbable events happen daily and go unreported. Reports of animals falling out of the skies go back hundreds of years. One of my favorite examples in this category is the famous “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876. Louisville residents were pelted with chunks of raw mutton and venison falling from the sky. One popular theory suggested the meat came from a flock of vomiting buzzards flying by! Talk about Aflockalypse.
As It Stands, who knows what will happen next? Republican and Democratic buzzards might cooperate with one another this year and actually do the job the public elected them for. Now that would be a sure sign of the end days!