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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Bird Deaths Should End Fireworks Displays

Written by PETA | January 6, 2011
ericlbc/CC by 2.0

Fireworks are being blamed for the recent deaths of 5,000 birds in Arkansas. The professional-grade explosives scared red-winged blackbirds and European starlings out of their nests and sent them into panicked flight. The night-blind birds crashed into houses, signs, and other obstacles, causing blunt-force trauma and death.

As this case shows, fireworks displays are disastrous for animals. Besides being frightening, fireworks produce plumes of smoke that are harmful to animals’ respiratory systems and pollute standing water. The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s fireworks display after a 2006 show caused nesting seabirds to flee their nests and abandon their chicks. Fireworks are also being blamed for the deaths of about 50 birds found dead on a street in Sweden earlier this year. Animal shelters also report an increase in the number of lost animal companions following fireworks displays. Many animals go missing because they panic and jump over fences or break chains; some even jump through plate-glass windows in order to get away from the terrifying sounds.

You can help birds and other animals by asking officials in your town to ban fireworks and switch to laser light shows, which provide all the awe of fireworks displays but are more affordable and kinder to animals and the environment.

Written by Michelle Sherrow

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  • Megakittyglitter says:

    I love you PETA, and I’m sorry but I think this is a little much extreme…………

  • Karla says:

    I WISH we could blame this all on fireworks (not that I favor them, personally). This is GLOBAL and very frightening and whatever is happening seems to be targeting one species at a time all within the period of a week. Let us mourn the loss of of these creatures and pray that is not a sign of things to come.

  • L Smith says:

    There is  evidence linking H.A.A.R.P to the bird deaths around the world. Someone has mapped the locations and they are all near HAARP stations… see utube video haarp , animal deaths.. he has 2 lengthly videos–

  • karaleigh says:

    you people need to read the USA today article that is linked in the above PETA article, and/or just do a google search. SEVERAL avian experts have stated the necropsies (animal autopsies) have indicated the birds were scared from their nests, and flew into houses, walls, the ground; the birds had broken beaks, skulls, and bruised breasts. these injuries are not caused by noxious gases or poison sprays, they are IMPACT injuries caused by blunt-force trauma self-inflicted by frightened birds trying to flee the scene! so maybe it’s YOU people that need better fact-checkers, huh?

  • renee says:

    I live across from a park where every July 4th our town has a huge fireworks display. My yard is 50×100 and has a variety of trees, shrubs, birdfeeders, etc. and where alot of birds make their homes. Each year, on the morning after a fireworks display, I find between 3-6 dead birds in my yard. During last year’s fireworks display (which I can view from my backyard), I was aware of several cardinals panicking and flying from their roosts. The next morning I found the male cardinal dead; his mate never returned to the nest, abandoning their chicks. There were two dead fledgling crowes also in my yard that morning, one with a broken beak and the other a broken neck. A dead dove was in my front yard as well. This may not appear to be of great significance, but I talked with several neighbors and they, too, found a few dead birds in their yards the day after the fireworks. I asked our city council for a reduction of the fireworks noise during those displays (to no avail), as it seemed to be the overuse of deafening “boom” sounds which caused the birds to panic. In recent years, the fireworks displays in our town have become too loud… If thousands of birds roosting in Arkansas were frightened from their roosts by fireworks, I can understand the massive deaths that resulted, given what I see each year on a much smaller scale in my tiny yard.

  • johanna says:

    I love you PETA and I agree that fireworks should be banned completely. Aside from the above mentioned reasons, it’s also completely wasteful!

  • M.C. says:

    Ok fireworks or not if they were poisoned do you think the government will ever want to admit to that? No! So let’s give them a few months to get results. By then all of you would have forgotten about this incident. In my opinion the fire works story sounds very likely. I have pets whom run around scared when they hear fireworks on fourth of july. There is no need to ban the fireworks display just have them relocate the show to an area that wouldn’t cause birds to flee.

  • Dee says:

    It’s certainly possible — maybe even probable in the case of the redwing blackbirds near Beebe — that they died because of the fireworks. But there’s also a good chance that those fireworks were already illegal. Professional fireworks shows usually take place in a large open area free of trees, partly to reduce the fire hazard. If in this instance it was just a bunch of yokels setting off high-power fireworks in their neighborhood, near trees where birds were roosting, then they were probably breaking the law. (And if so, I hope they do some serious jail time for it.) Fireworks in general do not kill nearly as many animals as are killed on the highway, killed by airplanes, killed for meat and fur, and in labs, and etc. There are a lot of birds killed from flying into skyscrapers with reflective exteriors, that make the building look “invisible” to the birds. We can’t ban everything, but we can do our best to make it safer for animals. With fireworks, we can regulate who is licensed to use them, require training for the license, make sure they’re not located near vulnerable bird species, etc. Many people, myself included, get a real thrill from fireworks shows. If we were going to ban anything, we should ban hunting. Hunters kills many more animals every year than fireworks do, and it brings no beauty or pleasure to anyone except the hunters themselves.

  • Dee says:

    It’s certainly possible — maybe even probable in the case of the redwing blackbirds near Beebe — that they died because of the fireworks. But there’s also a good chance that those fireworks were already illegal. Professional fireworks shows usually take place in a large open area free of trees, partly to reduce the fire hazard. If in this instance it was just a bunch of yokels setting off high-power fireworks in their neighborhood, near trees where birds were roosting, then they were probably breaking the law. (And if so, I hope they do some serious jail time for it.) Fireworks in general do not kill nearly as many animals as are killed on the highway, killed by airplanes, killed for meat and fur, and in labs, and etc. There are a lot of birds killed from flying into skyscrapers with reflective exteriors, that make the building look “invisible” to the birds. We can’t ban everything, but we can do our best to make it safer for animals. With fireworks, we can regulate who is licensed to use them, require training for the license, make sure they’re not located near vulnerable bird species, etc. Many people, myself included, get a real thrill from fireworks shows. If we were going to ban anything, we should ban hunting. Hunters kills many more animals every year than fireworks do, and it brings no beauty or pleasure to anyone except the hunters themselves.

  • ska213 says:

    Coastal Coyote is correct about the USDA killin’ birds for farmers, but not telling the public about the danger. This situation very well could be the result of fireworks…birds fly by VISION and sight is their compass.

  • katie4animals says:

    why is it that there’s a debate on this yet nothing about all the fish that are also dead in arkansas and they died in a town close to where the birds died? poison is much more of a likely cause.. given the proof with the fish AND the birds.

  • Anonymous says:

    The first thing I did after reading this artical was burst out lauging, so hard I almost fell out of my chair… Anyhow have you not heard the news reports of the hundreds of birds/fish who have fallen out of the sky/floated to the surface for apparently no reason? I’d say whatever caused that caused this. If all of this is recent then what about all the other Fourth of July’s? I can tell you that I’m sure the birds are used to it by now living next to large cities such as those named above.

  • ocean17 says:

    and there is no proof that the fireworks did not cause these birds deaths.

    yes the fireworks caused these birds deaths and suffering, this is not an uncommon occurance. this isn’t the first time this has happened. the fireworks should go.

  • uncoverthenews says:

    I don’t think fireworks caused these deaths. I think it could be secret government testing, HAARP, and/or chemtrails. See the film, What In The World Are They Spraying? Once you see that film, you will never look at the sky the same again.

  • Toby says:

    Not only are fireworks dangerous to birds, they are harrassment: if you’re trying to sleep in the middle of night, no matter your species, you should be legally obliged to have peace… noise disturbance is a crime & fireworks are harrassment. They scare dogs frequently, they probably scare some children; we can see the stupid culture-loving backlash, but indeed, fireworks are too dangerous to public wellbeing to be of any good.

  • Willow says:

    This isn’t PETA making anything up. Read the USA TODAY article linked in the blog. It says: “Someone shot off 10 to 12 professional-type fireworks near the roost,” she says. Wayne Ballew, Beebe’s chief of police, lives nearby. He reported that they “shook the windows on his house”

  • Liv says:

    I totally agree with ‘Grr’. I think Peta do some AMAZING work, but sometimes, you take it way too far and it makes you lack credibility. The evidence gathered so far has not been conclusive and mass deaths happen all across the globe, ALL THE TIME. It could just be an unfortunate coincidence.

  • Grrr says:

    OK, this is one of those semi-fanatical articles that destroy PETA’s credibility. Being a vegetarian, I try to support your cause as much as I can, but it is stuff like this that makes me ashamed to ask people to visit your website.

    There is no proof that these deaths have anything to do with fireworks – it could be a combination of factors, or it could be indeed the result of US poisonous gas tests. You can’t indiscriminately make such claims without any proof, because it makes you sound like lunatic scaremongers.

    I am also quite certain that airplanes cause a lot more bird deaths and stress than fireworks. Let’s call for banning airplanes as well then!

  • Tom says:

    Heather, you “bet a bunch flee their nests or fly into obstacles”  But you have no evidence that they do.  You don’t ban things because someone “thinks” it causes something negative to happen.  You need empirical evidence that fireworks cause massive animal deaths before  you ban something and so far there isn’t any evidence that fireworks have caused these bird kills.  The fact that we haven’t seen these massive kills on July fourth is good evidence that it’s something other than fireworks.

  • Larry G. says:

    I agree with Tom, before something is banned lets find out exactly what is going on. Not only did birds fall from the sky, fish also died in Arkansas. Then there are the birds in Kentucky, Louisiana and Sweden. Then the fish in Chesapeake bay, how are all these incidents linked. Also in Kentucky a man shot what was thought to be the mythical Chupacabra, which instead was a hairless raccoon. It is claimed that this is becoming more common in raccoons,Why? Are we not sure that we are not causing these problems with toxic waste and chemical pesticides, these problems should be evident with the rise in cancer cases over the last 2 decades.

  • Heather P. says:

    Tom, it’s not hard to put two and two together. Fireworks terrify birds. And maybe there arent thousands of birds killed on the Fourth of July, but I bet a bunch flee their nests, with their chicks in them, or fly into an obstacle in terror. We already take SO MUCH from animals. Let’s RECONSIDER OUR PLACE ON THIS EARTH. Isn’t there room for others?!?!?

  • Tom says:

    Before you start wanting to ban something else, Let’s find out if it was indeed fireworks. There have been reports of dead birds all over the country and even some in Europe. Not all of these places had fireworks displays. And if it is fireworks, why aren’t there massive bird kills on the fourth of July when just about every municipality shoots off fireworks? There isn’t enough evidence yet to know the cause or to ban anything.

  • frequent traveller says:

    I read this news few days ago. It too shocked me that fireworks display could cause such a disastrous result. Did it happen before in the past?

  • Coastal Coyote says:

    Except it WASN’T fireworks that killed these birds. The birds were culled by the USDA via poison.

  • ME says:

    The “results” are far from conclusive, and I would say they are speculative at best. Especially since there have been at least two more sets of birds to fall from the sky dead; one in Louisiana and another {recent event} in Sweeden. The likely explanation is some biological agent (virus or bacteria) or some toxin that the birds came in contact with from a point source. Lets NOT jump to quick and rash conclusions. Furthermore, fireworks if handled PROPERLY are harmless.