Study: Raining fish in Texas, Arkansas towns was caused by ‘nervous stomachs’ of birds

TEXARKANA, Texas — A strange phenomenon that had fish seemingly falling out of the sky along the Texas and Arkansas border may have been the result of birds regurgitating their meals.

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In a study published in the July 2022 issue of Fortean Times magazine, Paul Cropper and Sharon Hill argued that the phenomenon was not the result of a waterspout, which was the prevailing belief behind the occurrence at the time, but instead could be traced to vomiting birds.

On Dec. 29, 2021, residents of Texarkana, Texas, as well as some neighboring towns, saw fish raining down from the sky, with one woman in Arkansas reporting she had nearly two dozen fish in her yard, as we reported at the time.

The two researchers not only analyzed firsthand accounts from people who found the fish, but also employed the help of scientists at the University of Texas Biodiversity Center in Austin to analyze the fish, according to a press release about the study.

While strong winds, tornadoes and waterspouts can cause small animals to seemingly rain from the sky, there were no weather events recorded in the area that day that could have accounted for the fish, KTAL reported. The researchers found there was no evidence to support the idea that a waterspout had caused the phenomenon, and in fact, there was evidence that the fish had been partially digested, KTAL reported.

Cropper and Hill pointed to cormorants as the likely culprits, which had been noted around Texarkana Regional Airport at the time of the storm. Cormorants are known for “the disturbing habit of expelling their stomach contents,” according to the researchers.