Over 100 birds were found dead along a California highway this past weekend, and thousands of dead fish were reported along Chicago's lakefront prior to that. A smaller incident of around 30 dead birds was also reported in Missouri.
According to the AP, the dead birds found along Highway 101 in California "were intact and had not been shot." Thousands of gizzard shad, a member of the herring family, were found dead in Chicago's harbors, many floating in ice, The Sun-Time reports. Even more abnormal, according to wildlife experts, was the sight of Canada geese and mallards munching on the dead fish, something not ordinarily a part of their diet.
California and Illinois join countless other states that have seen mass animal deaths in the past weeks. Thousands of dead birds and fish were reported in Arkansas within 100 miles of each other, and then days later hundreds more dead birds turned up 300 miles away in Louisiana. Reports of similar incidents continued, with dead birds turning up Kentucky and millions of dead fish appearing in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay.
The incidents haven't been isolated to the U.S., as hundreds of dead birds were discovered in Italy, and dozens of birds fell from the sky in Sweden. Massive fish kills were reported in Brazil and New Zealand, while England experienced an estimated 40,000 dead crabs washing onto its beaches.
Various wildlife officials attest that the events are unrelated, and are not uncommon. Multiple explanations have been suggested as likely causes for various incidents. Experts believe the dead birds in Italy suffered from indigestion after overeating, while fireworks have been blamed for bird deaths in Arkansas, Louisiana and Sweden. Unusually cold weather has been speculated as the culprit in many of the fish and crab deaths, with some suggesting the same for the bird incidents.
As for the latest reports of birds falling from the sky in California and dead fish washing ashore in Chicago, officials are currently uncertain as to what could be responsible.