2011 got off to an eerie start, as a rash of mass animal deaths made global news in January. First came the demise of 4,000 red-winged blackbirds in Beebe, Ark. (pictured), followed days later by 500 blackbirds in Louisiana and up to 100 crows in Sweden. Meanwhile, millions of dead fish washed up in Maryland, and piles of dead crabs dotted beaches in the U.K.
The incidents weren't related, although several bird die-offs were attributed to panicked flying amid New Year's Eve fireworks. And while such events are rare, they're not unheard of — 1,500 grebes died in Utah on Dec. 12, for example, possibly disoriented by city lights.