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Issue 170 - January, 2014 (2nd Edition) - Page 19

Satire - '18 Million Birds Dead New Year's Eve'

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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.

Red winged black bird

© snehitdesign

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.

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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.

18 Million Blackbirds Dead Satire

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"?

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Last updated: January 3, 2014
First published: January 3, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

18 Million Blackbirds Dead on New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Species Likely Extinct
Aparecen miles de pájaros muertos más en Estados Unidos -
Why do birds fall dead to the ground

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Issue 170 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. 'Paul Walker Still Alive After Accident' Phishing and Survey Scam
  2. 'Profile Visitors for Facebook' Rogue App and Survey Scam
  3. PG & E Energy Statement Malware Emails
  4. Fake Picture: 'Thailand Snake Girl' - Serpentosis Malianorcis
  5. Tom Crist Lottery Win Advance Fee Scam
  6. Legoland Child Abduction Attempt Hoax
  7. Fake Picasa 'New Photos' Emails Point to Dodgy Pharmacy Website
  8. 'Win a Disney Cruise' Survey Scam
  9. Bogus Advice - Block Hackers by Adding 'Security' to Facebook Blocking Function
  10. Fake - Giant Squid Image
  11. Commonwealth Bank 'eStatement Ready' Phishing Scam
  12. 'Singer Rihanna Found to be Dead' Facebook Survey Scam
  13. Satire - Pope Francis and the 'Third Vatican Council'
  14. Snow Canyon Roadway Image
  15. Albert (Tapper) Torney and the Can Car Sculptures That He Did NOT Make
  16. 'Your Atmos Energy Bill is Available' Malware Email
  17. 'Beware Hack Scam Rollercoaster Clip' Facebook Warning Message
  18. Sainsbury's 'Customer Satisfaction Survey' Phishing Scame
  19. Satire - '18 Million Birds Dead New Year's Eve'
  20. Hoax - 'Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado'
  21. Hoax Report Claims Paul Walker Faked His Own Death
  22. 'Shark Eats Swimming Man' Facebook Survey Scam
  23. 'Notice to Appear in Court' Malware Emails
  24. 'Most Fatal Car Accident' Survey Scam
  25. Hoax - Extraordinary Planetary Alignment To Decrease Gravity on January 4
  26. 'World's Largest Snake Video' Survey Scam
  27. Michael Jackson Died Years Ago Hoax
  28. 'My Home is Burning' Facebook Phishing and Malware Scam
  29. Facebook 'Closed for Maintenance' Prank