01/01/2012 16:04 GMT

Dead Blackbirds Fall From The Sky On New Year's Eve In Arkansas Town

Residents of Beebe, Arkansas were left mystified today after thousands of dead blackbirds dropped from the sky during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The disturbing event mirrors an identical incident last New Year’s Eve, which saw up to 5,000 dead birds appear in the town, the majority of which were killed by “blunt force trauma”.

Last year’s deaths were believed to have been caused by loud fireworks, which may have scared the birds, causing them to collide with each other, power lines, houses and cars.

But the mystery deepened today when it emerged Arkansas police imposed an impromptu firework ban this year in an effort to prevent it from happening again.

Officer John Weeks said the first reports of "birds on the streets" came around 7 p.m. as residents celebrated the year's end with fireworks in their neighbourhoods.

"We started shutting down fireworks," he said. "We're working on cleaning up the birds now."

'I thought the Mayor was messing with me when he called me,' said Milton McCullar, the street department supervisor in Beebe.

'He got me up at 4:00 in the morning and told me we had birds falling out of he sky.' Mr McCullar told ABC News.

Weather conditions are unlikely to have caused the spate of deaths, with conditions clear and calm overnight in Arkansas.

The flurry of feathered deaths, coupled with tens of thousands of dead drum fish that washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, flung the state into the national headlines and drew conspiracy theorists and filmmakers to the town, AP reported.

Some people speculated that the birds had been poisoned; others said their deaths marked the beginning of the apocalypse.

"It's just got to be a pain in my career," Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew said.

"I guess we could have an annual blackbird watch," he said.

"People can just bring their umbrellas, open them up and walk through the neighborhood and hope they don't get hit."