Home Hoaxes Satire – ’18 Million Birds Dead New Year’s Eve’

Satire – ’18 Million Birds Dead New Year’s Eve’

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating report claims that 18 million blackbirds fell dead on New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Arkansas. The message includes an image depicting a worker picking up the bodies of the dead birds. 

Brief Analysis

The claims in the message are false. The report originates from the satirical website “RockCity Times” and is a work of fiction. The image has been digitally manipulated. The original photograph showed only a scattering of dead birds. It was taken in 2011 during clean up after a real mass bird death event.

Example

18 Million Blackbirds Dead on New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Species Likely Extinct

Beebe, AR — Wildlife officials estimate that over 18 million black birds fell to their death over a one mile area within Beebe Arkansas at midnight.This marks the fourth consecutive year that the birds have died at midnight on New Year’s Eve in the same area. The number of birds this year greatly exceed previous year’s totals.

Dead Blackbirds Satire Post

 

Detailed Analysis

According to a report that is currently travelling via social media and the blogosphere, 18 million blackbirds died on New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Arkansas. The report claims that the red-winged blackbirds fell to their deaths over a one-mile area right on midnight and the species is now likely extinct. 
The report includes an image supposedly depicting a street strewn with masses of blackbird bodies and a worker apparently tackling the massive job of picking them all up.

However, the claims in the story are false. The report comes courtesy of the satirical website, “RockCity Times”.  The site makes its satirical nature quite clear to visitors. Its title banner includes the slogan, “Arkansas’ 2nd most unreliable news source”. A disclaimer in the footer of the site’s pages notes:

The content on here is presented as fictional news with an intent for humor.

And, a link labelled “Help! I’m Confused or Offended!” points to Wikipedia’s write-up on satire.

Alas, quite a few visitors apparently miss these obvious clues and believe what they are reading.

But what of the (badly) photoshopped image used in the fake article? In fact, the image was taken from 2011 news reports discussing real mass bird deaths. It depicts a worker retrieving bird bodies after such an event. However, the original photograph shows only a few dead birds.

The one question left to ponder? What publication takes the title of “Arkansas’ MOST unreliable news source”?

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer