Birds On The Brain

Amber Kruth (

Bebee, Ark., caused a lot of hits online last week when birds fell from the sky.
The 5,000-population town, 35 miles east of Conway, endured a freak of nature as an estimated 3,000 red-winged blackbirds fell to the earth dead.
If not for the prominent presence of articles written by legitimate news sources, one might think this was some April fools joke or a scoop from the Onion due to be snoped.
There is a huge population of blackbirds in the area surrounding Bebee, and the residents, although baffled by the occurrence, won’t feel the absence of this one flock.
One theory of the cause is that fireworks set off to celebrate the
New Year startled the birds from their roost, and the birds died from stress-related reactions.
Another theory suggests weather-related trauma, such as lightning or high-altitude hail.
Most reports state that a thousand animals dropping from the sky instantaneously within a mile radius is not unusual, although I have never heard or seen such a blight affect animals.
Imagine the effect on this small town in central Arkansas near the stroke of midnight on the eve of 2011.
Although our brief and curious interest as a human species will certainly conjure reasons or myths for the cause of this incident, before the week is out, this odd anecdote will be mentally shoveled up and tossed out with the trash.

Fish Fry

Coincidentally, and as emphasized by the media, in unrelated news, 100,000 drum fish popped to the surface without life in the Arkansas River in Ozark last week.
Ozark is 125 miles northwest of Bebee. Game & Fish officials speculate overpopulation left a multitude of drum fish malnourished and vulnerable to disease.
The technical name for this phenomenon is called a fish kill, which leads me to believe this again is a routine practice of nature.
Since the fish were all of the same species, it is likely this was a strain
of disease affecting the fish, as opposed to a pollutant or divine intervention.

Natural Disaster Relief

Another event in Arkansas making headlines across the nation was an EF-3 tornado that hit Cincinnati on the morning of New Year’s Eve. Four people died, and 14 homes and the volunteer fire department were destroyed.
This small town of only 150 is in northeastern Arkansas near the Oklahoma border.
The Red Cross is accepting cash donations to give those in need a gift card that will allow them to purchase food, prescriptions, clothing, etc.
For more information go to


The Benton County Emergency Warning System failed to make an automatically generated phone call alert for the EF-3 tornado.
Those who had signed up at to receive e-mail or text messages were alerted, but land lines were not dialed.

Maybe that’s why Washington County doesn’t bother to have such a system in place, although they are “Storm Ready” certified.

▲ Amber Kruth ( provides a local perspective on news briefs from around Northwest Arkansas — tidbits that make you think and keep you informed.

Categories: Commentary