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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » The Birds

   
Author Topic: The Birds
philocinemas
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Among all the politics and tragedies reported this week, I have been drawn to one recurring storyline - The Birds.

More specifically, the birds in Arkansas (and in other parts of the world, which were less emphasized) falling out of the sky. The instant I heard about this, I thought back to a video I had seen about the impending polar magnetic shift (I'll try to find it later) describing how it would likely cause certain species of birds to become disoriented. I don't remember if it suggested they would fall out of the sky, but I do remember it suggesting that there would be random points of magnetic North and South appearing throughout the planet, which would disturb animal life.

I did a Google search and found that I'm not alone in having this theory. I am not usually a "conspiracy theorist" and I probably wouldn't have thought much of any of this, except for watching the two shifty-eyed wildlife "experts" in Arkansas, who were were suggesting it was possibly caused by fireworks. If it were that easy to kill a bird (nonetheless thousands), then I would imagine hunters would have a much easier time with it.

Any thoughts?


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Robert Nowall
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I was suspicious of the "official" explanation---fireworks killed 'em, which seems improbable unless they set them off right in the middle of a flock---but I haven't actually been to Arkansas and examined the carcasses.

Remember, too, they wiped out the passenger pigeon in under a century---and their flocks numbered in the billions.

There was a report this morning that dead fish were surfacing in the same area...


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J. N. Khoury
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I heard that in addition to the birds and the fish, there is a series of small earthquakes shaking Arkansas right now.

Eerie.


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Brendan
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New York has a natural local magnetic phenomenon that is of much greater magnitude than the magnetic field strength of the Earth. It is sort of like a magnetic mountain range which confuses the pigeons, preventing them from leaving the area. But it doesn't cause them to fall out of the sky - just to wander aimlessly believing they are headed in a single direction. So I suspect that a reversal isn't the cause. (Furthermore, if a reversal were underway, you would be sure that it would make the papers - that is too big an issue not to, and too verifiable by independent people from scientists to shipping captains to hikers and orienteering participants.)

Fireworks? They certainly scare the birds, but if it were the cause, then it would happen year after year - and that is not really the case is it? Unless of course there was a new chemical in the fireworks that is reacting to the birds' chemistry. In fact, wouldn't that be a great plot for a story - a stealthy country creates the opportunity for an invasion of a neighbor by selling chemical weapons to the populous as fireworks - on New Year's day, the invasion begins.

Looking into it a little further, is was noted that there were storms (including tornadoes) in the area. So the most likely explanation (and most boring) is that the birds got caught in an updraft, going so high that there was insufficient oxygen for them to survive. Later they simply fell from this location. There have been recorded incidents of masses of fish and frogs falling out of the sky, so birds should be no surprise.

[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited January 04, 2011).]


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LDWriter2
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One Climate Prof. said it was just the storms they have been having recently. It's happened before, the birds get sucked up by the winds, die, then get carried along by the winds. Winds stop they fall. He said if you check the weather pattern for the storm the birds follow the storms on the same course.


or if you like conspiracies someone in government was suppose to have said... they hit the debt ceiling.



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LDWriter2
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But my first thought when I first heard of the first birds was that it would fit into a Urban Fantasy story about a Mage battle.

But it could work for SF too.


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Brendan
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I was editing while you were posting this LD - looks like we are on the same track. But the debt ceiling - LOL.
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Robert Nowall
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There are also bird die-offs in Louisiana, and fish dieoffs in Maryland and Brazil.
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LDWriter2
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In Brazil its a dinosaur with radioactive eyes.
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Smaug
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Well, it's interesting that it's supposedly only red-wing blackbirds that are being found dead. If a storm, why not other birds? Or if any of the explanations are true, why only one species of bird? That points to a virus/disease of some type, if it's truly only one kind of bird.
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Reziac
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No, it doesn't point at disease. For one thing that wouldn't kill so uniformly in such a short timeframe (I live in a Newcastle plague area, and even that doesn't cause more than the very occasional fall-from-the-sky death among wild birds).

For another... birds tend to group in same-species flocks, especially at night.

A blackbird weighs about the same as 10 or 12 sheets of paper. That's nothing against severe winds, and birds are relatively fragile. I've personally seen an 84mph wind make a 55 gallon drum (weight about 40 pounds) bound across my back forty and leap over my 6 foot fence!


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PB&Jenny
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Here's what I got from a doubtful Facebook source. For what it's worth;

arkansas-weapons-test-causes-mass-death/


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Robert Nowall
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I suspect that redwing blackbirds were photographed because they're the most colorful of the dead birds...I haven't seen anything breaking it down species by species, at least not in the press reports, just "dead birds." (They didn't even identify the redwing blackbirds in the pictures I saw...)
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rich
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We finally got 'em back for what they did to Tippi Hedren.
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philocinemas
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One point of interest is that all of the birds affected (there were actually two or three species) were all migratory birds - not sure about the fish.
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LDWriter2
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Evidently blackbirds like to hang out together... thousands at a time. So one storm at the wrong time and place equals thousands dead. As I said it has suppose to have happened before.

Shoulder shrug, we don't get that type of storms here, even though we do have a certain type of bird that flies in huge flocks, in circles but as I said that is what one climate expert said.


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Robert Nowall
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Another day, another press report about dead birds elsewhere in the world.

I'm thinking this is what they used to call "silly season" stuff---something strange-on-the-face-of-it, that newspapers could use to fill their pages when regular news was slow.

Most of you are probably too young to remember the "flying saucers" craze from, oh, the late forties through the fifties. (So am I, actually.) A more recent example would be during the summer of 2001, when there were stories and more stories about shark attacks. There weren't any more than usual, but it got a lot of attention during a slow summer---that is, it got attention until somebody decided to hijack and fly jumbo jets into skyscrapers one day, and then you didn't hear another word about it.


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Pyre Dynasty
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Yeah I remember the summer Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped was called the summer of kidnapping and there were so many stories about it, but kidnappings were actually down that year.

Once there was a flock of birds found dead here, everybody was freaking out, there was a chemical plant "near" (near here meaning on the other side of one of the largest lakes in America.) They interrupted all the TV shows with pictures of the dead birds. It was kindof a letdown when the trucker called in and told them what happened. They were flying behind him, taking advantage of the air situation behind the rig, and he had to stop suddenly and they all slammed into the back of the trailer.

I'm having flashbacks to The Core.


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LDWriter2
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I'm having flashbacks of "The Birds"

Even though that wasn't a die off.


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PB&Jenny
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Pyre Dynasty said:
quote:
Yeah I remember the summer Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped was called the summer of kidnapping and there were so many stories about it, but kidnappings were actually down that year.

What an awesome beginning for a story.

quote:
I remember the summer Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped. It was called the summer of kidnapping, with so many stories about it, but kidnappings were actually down that year.

If you don't wanna use it, can I?


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Robert Nowall
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Belatedly, I'm bringing up C. M. Kornbluth's "The Silly Season," if any of you want to read an excellent science fiction story that deals with this kind of event and how the news media reacts to it.
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LDWriter2
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Actually "The Silly Season" makes me think the book is about elections.
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Pyre Dynasty
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PB, even if we did write from the same idea I doubt our stories would resemble each other, but go ahead. I don't actually see a story there myself.
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PB&Jenny
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Thank you kindly. Expect that story in early 2014.
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Robert Nowall
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After the events of the last day in the US, I don't think we'll see much of the "dead birds" story for several days, at least.
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LDWriter2
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Yeah, definitely not a slow NEWS day or weekend.


Sad....


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