It's being called an aflockalypse. A cluster of reports of mass bird deaths over the last few days have the strangest people (Kirk Cameron?) commenting on whether they signal something more dire. But is there something going on?
The stories about mass animal deaths began getting visibility on New Year's Eve, when a large flock of red-wing blackbirds fell from the sky in Arkansas. That was followed rapidly by 2 million fish in Chesapeake Bay, 150 tons of Vietnamese red tilapia, and 40,000 crabs in Britain. Not to mention sparrows in China and jackdaws in Sweden.
Is calling it an aflockalypse at all reasonable? According to scientists, not really. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Federal records indicate there's a mass animal death akin to the blackbirds about every other day on average in North America.
Aflockalypse-like die-offs have been tracked since the 1970's by the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin. According to wildlife disease specialist LeAnn White, we're seeing a fairly standard cluster of mass animal deaths.
And if you'll pardon an aflockalyptic pun, ornithologist John Wiens with the PRBO Conservation Science research institution in California says these sorts of die-offs "generally fly under the radar." Don't shoot the messenger. You were warned it was a pun.
So why is the aflockalypse capturing our attention when mass animal deaths have been happening all along? We are in such a well-connected age that more information is shared on a regular basis. Also, New Year's Eve was a pretty slow news day.
And we humans love to play connect-the-dots and find patterns where none may exist. So throw that into the stew of the crazies who think 2012 will mean anything other than an election year, and you get the aflockalypse.
This doesn't mean finding out why the mass animal deaths are happening is a useless endeavor. It's just that people who think it's worth asking people like Kirk Cameron whether it means the Rapture is nigh probably ought to relax. The world is not only stranger than we know, but it is stranger than we can know.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Article Â©2011 Brenda Daverin for Gather.com. All rights reserved.