Jaap Schaaf  /  EPA via Sipa Press
Millions of dominoes fall at the record attempt Friday in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.
updated 11/18/2005 8:00:00 PM ET 2005-11-19T01:00:00

A Dutch television show claimed to have knocked down a chain of more than 4.1 million dominoes Friday in a new world record, but organizers conceded the event was overshadowed by the earlier shooting of an errant sparrow.

The sparrow was killed by an exterminator with an air rifle on Monday after it knocked down 23,000 dominoes. The killing was seen by many as an overreaction, and angered animal rights and bird protection groups.

It later emerged that the house sparrow, though common, is classified as an endangered species in the Netherlands. Its population has halved in the past 20 years to less than 1 million breeding pairs, due to human encroachment on its territory.

Domino Day organizers claimed that 4,155,476 dominoes successfully fell on Friday, bettering their own record of 3.9 million set last year and approved by Guinness World Records.

The show’s creator, Robin Paul Weijers, referring to the dead bird, said the record generated “mixed emotion.”

“We all feel terrible about what happened,” he said.

More than 5,000 people signed a condolence register on an impromptu Web site set up to honor the bird, and Dutch media reported that the guard who shot the bird received death threats.

“I just wish we could channel all this energy that went into one dead sparrow into saving the species,” said Hans Peeters, the head of the Dutch Bird Protection agency, who appealed Friday for calm.

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