Here’s a story that intrigues me immensely, and it’s in that “sudden animal death” category that every now and then we hear stories of, until the news drops them. We’ve all heard of these stories too: seals or whales or some form of aquatic life washes up (or in some of the more fanciful versions of these stories, beaches itself) on the beaches in vast numbers, and suddenly. One of my favorite versions of this type of story occurred a few years ago in Tennessee as birds appeared simply to drop out of the sky, more or less all at once. Usually, we’re given explanations that run to the “ordinary and mundane” such as that these flocks of birds or schools of fish or gaggles of geese suddenly, and more or less simultaneously, all succumbed to the same disease at more or less the same time. We’ll get back to that in a moment.
Well… it appears to have happened again, in Idaho this time, according to this article that was shared by many readers here:
More Dead Birds Fall From the Sky in Idaho
Now you’ll note that in this version of the story, in the comments section, there’s a brief exchange between two commenters, one of whom notes strange intereference with his bluetooth signal as he was driving through Idaho, and another commenter who downplays the possibility of microwave interference.
What bothered me about this article was that it mentioned specifically Kuna county, and was datelined July 9, but it sounded like, and appeared to be to perhaps be based upon, these articles from earlier this year, in March:
2,000 geese fall dead ‘out of the sky’ in Idaho
‘Basically, they just fell out of the sky': 2,000 snow geese found dead in Idaho
There are some notable differences between the first story on the one hand, and the second and third stories on the other, in that the first story seems to suggest that various types of birds, including songbirds, were involved, while the second two are focused on snowgeese. But look at the explanation being offered in the USA Today version of the story:
MUD LAKE, Idaho (AP) — Some 2,000 migrating snow geese have died recently in eastern Idaho, likely from a disease that comes on quickly and can kill birds in midflight, wildlife officials say.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says staff and volunteers collected the dead birds over the past several days at wildlife management areas near the towns of Terreton and Roberts.
The cause of death likely was avian cholera, which can cause convulsions and erratic flight, the agency said.
And here’s the Washington Post’s version of the “sudden avian cholera” theory, which notes it can cause strange behavior:
“Early symptoms can include lethargy, convulsions, a discharge from the mouth, matted feathers and erratic movements on the ground and in the air — including flying upside down, according to USGS. But many outbreaks of the disease are spotted only after the birds have died from it.”
I recall a similar incident, years ago in Tennessee, involving dead birds – of all types – just dropping out of the sky, stone cold dead, as if they had all suddenly died in flight. In that instance, as I recall, there were even some astonished witnesses that gave a few sound bites for the news. The story ran for a brief period, then,like such stories do, just disappeared. In that instance, I do not recall discussions of the mechanism of death, or of avian cholera, though such discussions may have occurred.
So I’ll come right out with what bothers me here, and it might bother some of you, I don’t know. Avian cholera apparently causes erratic behavior in birds, including flying upside down. And apparently it can bring on sudden death. But what bothers me is that this might not be adequate to explain why flights of geese appear to be dropping from the sky in one apparently specific region of Idaho, and do so apparently more or less simultaneously(we’ll get to that in a moment). Even if one assumes these geese all feed from the same pond or area, surely they would fall from the sky at slightly different periods. Note this statement in the Washington Post article, which to my mind, raises, rather than resolves, this point rather directly:
That’s because once birds become sick from the disease, they usually don’t have very long to live. Some contracting the acute form of the disease die within 6 to 12 hours of exposure, but more often, it takes 24 to 48 hours. Birds drop from the sky in otherwise “good body condition,” USGS says, “Death may be so rapid that birds literally fall out of the sky or die while eating with no previous signs of disease.” (Italicized emphasis added)
So one has an incubation-to-death time period of 6 to 48 hours, and this would mean, if one thinks about it, two things:
- The flock of geese concerned should be dropping from the skies individually, and possibly stretched out along the flight path of their migration from the source of infection to the moment of death. They would not be likely to be concentrated in one area of Idaho, but scattered linearly along their migration path from the point of infection; and,
- Even if they stayed put in one area, they would not be dropping out of the skies at more or less the same time, which is the impression created in the articles, though please note, in the second two articles there are no statements of any witnesses actually saying this. The impression of “simultaneity” is created by the articles’ headlines themselves. However, weirdly, if one looks at the first artcle allegedly from July 9, the picture of the birds in the road(if genuine) suggests a more or less simultaneous event, as many of the carcasses have apparently not been flattened by passing vehicles nor has the road been cleared by local law enforcement. The picture, in other words, suggests simultaneity, though certainly does not prove it. Granted the road appears to be in a remote section of Idaho, and may not get much traffic, and the birds might have dropped over time. But surely, in even the remotest areas, there would be at least one vehicle per hour, and with it, some smashed bird carcasses. We don’t seem to see that here.
What we’re left with, I suspect, is a mystery, and perhaps one which is being obfuscated by the “avian cholera” story, because the real mechanisms are known and disturbing. Avian cholera might explain birds, but sudden deaths of aquatic life won’t apply to that mechanism. Are we looking at unified phenomena? I don’t know. Are we looking at avian cholera in some of these cases? Well, probably, but it’s that prospect of “simultaneity” that makes that mechanism of explanation a bit wobbly in my opinion. Two high octane speculation alternatives might present themselves: is there some other cause of these events, and is avian cholera being put forward as the best explanation of the data in lieu of having the public look more closely at the data that doesn’t seem to fit that explanation(like the suggestion of simultaneity in the pictures in the first article)? Is planetary physics or environment being affected in such a way as to cause these events? And if so, are they being obfuscated by “disease” explanations because “they” don’t want to cause a “panic”? Maybe. Again, I don’t know. I find this possibility disturbing, to say the least, but not very likely. Could these events be caused by some sort of secret human technology, or could they be the unintended consequence of its use or other secret activity? Maybe. Again, I don’t know. The bottom line for me is that I find the avian cholera explanation a bit disquieting as well. It seems, if I may state it simply, a bit too convenient. The bottom line here, is that there may or may not be a mystery here, even on the avian cholera version, for that version, plus similar events from the oceans and other places around the world, might suggest that diseases themselves are mutating and species-jumping in odd and unpredictable ways.
See you on the flip side…