Blame nature for birds falling from sky

For fan of Elvis, a special tour

Rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena said he was living his dream on Friday as he toured Graceland, the longtime Memphis home of his idol, Elvis Presley. Pena, 34, who belted out Elvis tunes to lift the spirits of 32 other miners while they were trapped underground for 69 days, shot video with his cell phone and occasionally broke into song as he walked through rooms with displays of gold records, movie posters and Elvis outfits. Pena's tour is part of a six-day visit to Memphis and Las Vegas paid for by local businesses and tourism groups. He also has run in the New York Marathon.

Once forgotten, veterans saluted

Twenty service members from New York City whose bodies have gone unclaimed for months or longer will receive full military honors at a national veterans service today at Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the mass funeral is the largest of its kind in U.S. history. It's part of a national initiative in recent years to clear a massive backlog of unburied or unclaimed remains of both veterans and nonveterans. The effort is backed by the Missing in America Project, which has been organizing funerals for forgotten veterans since 2006.

Executed man receives pardon

A mentally disabled man executed more than 70 years ago was pardoned on Friday in Colorado. Outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter awarded a posthumous pardon to Joe Arridy, 23, who was executed in 1939 after being convicted of killing a Pueblo girl. Ritter said evidence suggests Arridy didn't commit the crime. It's the first time a Colorado governor has pardoned someone who has been executed.

Associated Press

20

percent of the just-seated 112th Congress who are U.S. military veterans, the smallest number since World War II

Source: Scripps Howard News Service

It's death on a wide scale, biblical-type stuff: Millions of spot fish died last week in the Chesapeake Bay; red-winged blackbirds tumbled from the skies by the thousands in Arkansas and Kentucky over the holidays; and tens of thousands of pogies, drum fish, crab and shrimp went belly up last fall in a Louisiana bayou.

For an explanation of these mysterious events, some have turned to Scripture or the Mayan calendar, which suggests the world will end in 2012. But wildlife experts say these massive wildlife kills were not the result of a man-made disaster or a spooky sign of the apocalypse.

They happen in nature all the time.

In Arkansas, state and federal biologists believe sleeping birds likely heard a loud boom in the night and freaked out. In Louisiana, low-oxygen ocean water regularly creeps into the higher-oxygen bayou and suffocates fish and crustaceans.

Maryland wildlife biologists are still investigating the deaths of 2 million spot and some drum fish. But they have a theory: These fish are particularly vulnerable to cold and were killed when water temperatures dropped suddenly and sharply in late December.

The red-winged blackbirds in Arkansas were probably asleep when they heard a loud boom from a high-intensity firework shrieking through their tree roost. As it happens in such cases, the birds went nuts, said Carol Meteyer, a veterinary pathologist for the National Wildlife Health Center, a division of the U.S. Geological Service. "They fly disoriented and crash," Meteyer said.

Washington Post

Blame nature for birds falling from sky 01/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:53pm]

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