But what about multiple bird kills happening in various locations? According to Graves, this is one of those times where the human brain's penchant for pattern-finding has gone a little haywire. Mass bird deaths aren't uncommon. There's a lot of reasons why they happen. Once we're primed to pay attention, we start to see them everywhere. But it doesn't mean those incidents are connected—any more than a double homicide in Arkansas is likely to be connected to a double homicide that happens the same week in Louisiana. We could be seeing a pattern, sure. But the chances aren't real high. Remember the large fish kill that happened in Louisiana last summer? Everybody speculated the oil spill was to blame. In reality, it was a natural occurrence, caused by fish getting trapped in low-oxygen tidal pools.
And, honestly, looking at the reported cases, I'm not sure I even see much of a pattern, at all. Let me explain ...
If you look at the Google map Xeni posted earlier today, you'll see that most of the mass animal deaths marked aren't blackbirds. They aren't even mostly birds. Here are the bird deaths marked:
Texas, number of birds not given—just "a large number": Texas Park and Wildlife officials say there are always dead birds on this particular bridge, probably because they get spooked by predators and then fly, in a group, into the path of cars.
Sweden, 50 to 100 jackdaws: No known cause, but experts think the birds were probably weak from overwintering, and, after being startled by fireworks, flew into traffic. Remember, this is 50 or 100 birds out of a flock that would probably have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Kentucky, "dozens" of dead birds: In this case, nobody saw the dead birds except the woman whose yard they landed in. She cleaned them up and, by her own admission, thought nothing of them until reports about the Arkansas die off scared her.