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Study: Last year’s Texarkana fish rain was due to birds regurgitating their food over the city

by From Staff Reports | June 22, 2022 at 3:27 p.m.
This fish is one of about 20 small fish found in the backyard of a Texarkana, Ark. home in December of last year. (File photo by Danielle Dupree)


TEXARKANA – Researchers recently concluded a study stating fish that fell in Texarkana during a December 2021 thunderstorm likely came from the stomachs of nervous birds that ejected their recent meals.

An intense thunderstorm on Dec. 29, 2021 brought dozens, if not hundreds, of small fish falling with the rain and hail over a four - mile swath of Texarkana. At the time of the event, the Texarkana Gazette received numerous calls from people stating that anywhere from 15-30 fish had suddenly fallen onto their property.

It was originally estimated by area meteorologists that the fish have likely been picked up in a water spot or tornadic winds and displaced in Texarkana. Research found by Paul Cropper, an Australian researcher of anomalous phenomenon, and colleague Sharon A. Hill state otherwise.

Cropper and Hill collected evidence that led them to believe the occurrence came from regurgitated bird stomach contents.

Their conclusions are published in the July 2022 issue of Fortean Times magazine.

According to a press release sent out by the two scientists, the fish, identified as Gizzard shad, had characteristics indicative of partial digestion. The researchers strongly suspect the fish had been eaten by cormorants (a common, large shore bird). Then shortly after, the birds, at least some of which were airborne, were caught up in the storm front and disgorged their meals.

They say Texarkana Regional Airport officials and a resident noted the presence of cormorants around the time of the storm. Cormorants are common in large numbers and are known to exhibit the disturbing habit of expelling their stomach contents. The reason for this behavior is unknown.

Cropper collected photos and videos from locals who found the fish on streets, sidewalks, grass, parking lots and the airport runway. Fish remains were found in truck beds and on roofs - indicating that they fell from some height.

"While many media outlets reported that the fish were sucked up by a waterspout and dropped some distance away, this hypothesis has never been documented and does not fit the evidence in Texarkana," as stated in the press release.

Additionally, Cropper and Hill confirmed no waterspout occurred during this storm and no other human-related distribution of fish via aircraft or by hand was plausible.

Samples of the fish were retained by the University staff for further testing.


Print Headline: Study shows last year’s Texarkana fish rain was due to birds regurgitating their food over the city

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