A viral report claiming that 18 million blackbirds died on New Year’s Eve in Beebee, Arkansas, leading to the likely extinction of the species is a hoax.
“Wildlife officials estimate that over 18 million black birds fell to their death over a one mile area within Beebe Arkansas at midnight,” reads the fake report from the Rock City Times.
The Rock City Times bills itself as “Arkansas’ 2nd most unreliable news source,” and it only publishes satire news.
Some of the top satire stories include “Arkansas Razorbacks Sign 76 Year Old QB to 2014 Recruiting Class,” “Little Rock Police Accidentally Arrest Santa, Majority of Country without Presents,” and Dallas Cowboys owner “Jerry Jones Announces He will Undergo a Post-Season Brain Transplant.”
A link at the bottom of the site that reads “Help! I am confused or offended!” goes to the Wikipedia page for “satire.”
But a number of people on social media sites were apparently tricked by the report. More than 55,000 people shared the story.
“Government is up to something!! They kill the whales/dolphins etc with their sonar testing every year too! They are experimenting with frequencies all over!” wrote one person.
Another added: “Heard it was from contaminated water? Fracking maybe???”
However, quite a few people wrote in to clarify the article is satire.
In recent years, there have been blackbird die offs in Beebe. Approximately 5,000 blackbirds died around the same time last year. In 2011, thousands of blackbirds also died.
Officials have blamed the incident on fireworks displays startling the birds to death.