Vail Daily columnist: Here’s why the birds are falling from the sky |

Vail Daily columnist: Here’s why the birds are falling from the sky

We all want answers to last week’s plethora of “bird droppings.” But instead of responding directly up front, I want to first let you know why the birds are not dying.

A few thousand birdies were not scared to death by fireworks. Otherwise we would see millions of the little Tweety’s dropping dead across the country every Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

According to all evidence, our government is not using secret airplanes to spread contrails of tiny gas bombs on unsuspecting citizens, not even those who refused to vaccinate their children or wear “Power Balance” bracelets.

Besides, if we were going to test such a device, I’m pretty sure we would give it the ol’ college try someplace else, say in northern Pakistan.

According to all evidence, neither did they slam head first into a giant UFO draped in an invisibility cloak, thus causing their little necks to snap.

Chances are pretty good the blunt trauma was caused by a few hundred feet of free fall, which came to an abrupt end upon slamming into home base.

And also, according to all evidence so far, they are not dying by the thousands because a gas mask-wearing Jesus is floating in the clouds while spraying Bird-B-Gone over a small patch of central Arkansas to send a secret signal about the coming apocalypse.

Why, oh why, whenever something seemingly strange or abnormal occurs on this planet and the answer is not immediately known, do all the loonies have to start shouting, “It’s the end of days!” or some such nonsense, making them sound no better or smarter than a Mayan priest shouting at a solar eclipse while wielding a crude knife over the open chest of a virgin?

For Pete’s sake, we have cell phones capable of processing more data than the entire Apollo program, yet some still cower at the mere thought of invisible boogey men or government-approved space aliens.

But seeing how dead birds don’t talk, what are a few plausible causes?

Higher than normal earthquake activity is a possibility. The New Madrid fault is nearby, and we know pockets of methane can be suddenly released into the air (think: Earth farts), certainly enough to enter tiny bird lungs, rendering them temporarily unconscious.

Disease or infections of some type could be the culprit, but they spread over time, not mere seconds, thus probably could not kill so many simultaneously.

The Pine Bluff Chemical Weapons Arsenal is barely 60 miles southwest of where this particular flock died, and they just recently completed a two-year project of burning nerve and mustard gas agents in an open air incinerator, but toxic waste disposal continues there until 2013.

I do believe we have us a contender.

But either way, mass bird deaths (and other wildlife) are actually not uncommon at all, and according to the U.S. Geological Survey website, they list 95 events just since last April, and those numbers are right in line with the last 20 years.

So whether it’s frigid temps, fowl weather (yuk-yuk) or industrial accidents, chances are strong we can rule out conspiracy-laced mysticism as a cause for anything.

Except, of course, delusional fears.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at Comment on

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