Stow Creek, New Jersey – 200 red winged blackbirds fell from the sky on a typical cool but sunny day in November 2016. The dead bird shower only lasted a few moments, but it left local officials baffled. What caused this flock to simply die mid-flight, and rain down upon the small town?
Larry Hajna, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stated in an interview with philly.com,
They just fell from the sky…We did ascertain that the birds suffered trauma and internal bleeding from hitting the ground, but what made them fall from the sky in the first place…we can’t say for certain.
This was the second time in less than three weeks that a large die off of birds occurred in the area, however, the last incident involved only a couple dozen birds.
Local environmental officials removed the birds, and sent some to the state laboratory to be tested. The results were inconclusive. Samples of wheat in a nearby field were also sent for tests to the University of Pennsylvania. The farmer who owned the field told officials that the seed had been sprayed with the common fungicides and insecticides. However, these chemicals are not harmful to birds, nor are they used to control bird populations. Hajna stated,
We have determined that the deaths were not caused by pesticides commonly known to be toxic to wildlife and not likely caused by compounds reported in wheat seed planted in an agricultural field.
So what killed these birds? No one seems to know. Large scale animal deaths occur quite frequently. In September 2016, a massive flock of birds fell out of the sky over Boston, and in June of 2015, the same occurred in Idaho. Most recently, off the coast of Nova Scotia in Canada, scores of dead fish and other sea creatures were found washed up on a beach.
Most theories concerning these die offs include environment pollution, unknown pathogens, and even shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field. On the more mysterious side, some claim these die offs are caused by secret biological weapons testing, weather manipulation contrails from aircraft, paranormal phenomena, and even a sign that the ‘end of days’ is fast approaching.
While officials are unsure as to what killed these blackbirds, there is something inherently scary about hundreds of birds, especially blackbirds, falling out of the sky like a rain shower and ending up dead on the road. It seems to raise a whole collection of archetypal fears. In many cultures, blackbirds are the symbolic link between this world and the eternal, a representation of the human soul, and having a whole bunch of them suddenly smash into the pavement one sunny day really messes with one’s existential self.