Tag Archive | dead birds

Massive die off of sea birds hits Kodiak Island in Alaska, USA

Kodiak Island residents have been reporting a large number of common murres washing up dead on local beaches.
 
The small black and white seabird usually establish breeding colonies on the Alaska Peninsula and in the Aleutian Islands.
 
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge bird biologist Robin Corcoran said there are a few colonies on the island, but they’re less than 200 birds.
 
Corcoran said the refuge first started receiving reports in April and May about a handful of murre die-offs.
 
“They were showing up in places where people don’t normally see them. These are birds that are usually pretty far off shore,” she said. “We were getting all these reports of them being seen close to shore, foraging.”
 
Corcoran said more and more reports of dead birds started coming in August. She said some beaches have a large number of carcasses; there are over a hundred on the shores of Pasgashack.
 
She said she doesn’t know what could have caused the deaths, but it could be related to the birds’ inability to catch fish because they’re currently going through a flight feather molt stage.
 
“They spend about 70 days where they can’t fly, and so the die-off seems to coincide with this flight feather molt where they’re flightless and it might be that they don’t have the mobility to move to locations where they can find the forage fish,” Corcoran said,
 
Making things worse is that the birds are in a mostly unfamiliar territory. No one knows why they’re congregating on Kodiak Island. Corcoran hypothesizes that colony abandonment in other areas could be a factor.
 
Corcoran said 2012 the last year they saw a major bird die-off, that time of both murres and grebes in January through March. They collected carcasses and sent them to the National Wildlife Health center in Madison, Wisconsin, where they ruled starvation as the cause of death.
 
The carcasses they’ve sent this year have been emaciated. Corcoran said the murres’ plight it could be connected to recent whale die-offs.
 
“[We’re] looking into the possibility of harmful algal blooms. … It could be related to the warm ocean temperatures having an impact on forage fish populations,” she said.
 
Corcoran said refuge survey data indicates that several other bird species’ numbers have declined, like the pigeon guillemot and the marbled murrelet. She said she’s read about the die-off reaching Homer, as well as along the Alaskan Peninsula and into the Aleutians.
Courtesy of ktoo.org

Massive die off of sea birds hits Kodiak Island in Alaska, USA

Kodiak Island residents have been reporting a large number of common murres washing up dead on local beaches.
 
The small black and white seabird usually establish breeding colonies on the Alaska Peninsula and in the Aleutian Islands.
 
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge bird biologist Robin Corcoran said there are a few colonies on the island, but they’re less than 200 birds.
 
Corcoran said the refuge first started receiving reports in April and May about a handful of murre die-offs.
 
“They were showing up in places where people don’t normally see them. These are birds that are usually pretty far off shore,” she said. “We were getting all these reports of them being seen close to shore, foraging.”
 
Corcoran said more and more reports of dead birds started coming in August. She said some beaches have a large number of carcasses; there are over a hundred on the shores of Pasgashack.
 
She said she doesn’t know what could have caused the deaths, but it could be related to the birds’ inability to catch fish because they’re currently going through a flight feather molt stage.
 
“They spend about 70 days where they can’t fly, and so the die-off seems to coincide with this flight feather molt where they’re flightless and it might be that they don’t have the mobility to move to locations where they can find the forage fish,” Corcoran said,
 
Making things worse is that the birds are in a mostly unfamiliar territory. No one knows why they’re congregating on Kodiak Island. Corcoran hypothesizes that colony abandonment in other areas could be a factor.
 
Corcoran said 2012 the last year they saw a major bird die-off, that time of both murres and grebes in January through March. They collected carcasses and sent them to the National Wildlife Health center in Madison, Wisconsin, where they ruled starvation as the cause of death.
 
The carcasses they’ve sent this year have been emaciated. Corcoran said the murres’ plight it could be connected to recent whale die-offs.
 
“[We’re] looking into the possibility of harmful algal blooms. … It could be related to the warm ocean temperatures having an impact on forage fish populations,” she said.
 
Corcoran said refuge survey data indicates that several other bird species’ numbers have declined, like the pigeon guillemot and the marbled murrelet. She said she’s read about the die-off reaching Homer, as well as along the Alaskan Peninsula and into the Aleutians.
Courtesy of ktoo.org

Hundreds of birds washing up dead or dying, ‘they are starving’, along the Oregon and Washington coast, USA

Hundreds of birds are washing ashore either dead or dying along the Oregon and Southwest Washington Coast.
 
The majority of them are common murres, which are a type of large auk bird.
 
Researchers say that the die-off started about three weeks ago.
 
Since then the Wildlife Center of the North Coast, which helps rehabilitate sick or injured sea-birds, has been getting calls daily about the problem. Right now – they are caring for close to a hundred birds- with about ten common murres coming in daily. Almost all of them are starving.
 
“They’re totally emaciated, sometimes there’s injuries, other times there’s not,” said Laurel Berblinger, a volunteer at the center.
 
According to the biologists, the fish the birds normally eat are not there.
 
Because of the El Nino weather phenomenon that is happening across the Pacific, scientists say the ocean is just too warm right now.
 
“It really limits the productivity of the ocean from the base level so in the case of the common murre which feeds on small fish, these are not as plentiful as they normally are during a normal ocean condition year,” explained Herman Biederbeck, ODFW biologist for the north coast.
 
The experts say if you do see a dying bird, or one in need of help, call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
 
But with so many dead birds along the beaches now, it’s important to keep children and dogs away from them because some of the birds could be diseased.
 
Biologists say they are bracing for a lot more of this. They say this die-off could easily stretch into the fall.
Courtesy of kgw.com

Dozens of blue herons found dead at oilsands site in Alberta, Canada

The Alberta Energy Regulator is investigating the deaths of about 30 blue herons at an oilsands site north of Fort McMurray.
 
Bob Curran, a spokesperson with the AER, said one bird was found covered in oil Wednesday at the Syncrude Canada Mildred Lake oilsands mine site. It was alive, but had to be euthanized, Curran said over the phone Saturday.
 
“It had oil on it so they contacted Fish and Wildlife and requested permission to euthanize it,” said Curran.
 
Syncrude staff  investigated the site further and found other dead birds. They were reported to the AER on Friday.
 
“They were close to a sump which is a low area where runoff fluids gather. And there was some bitumen there which impacted the one bird that they found this week and euthanized. The others were outside of that area so it’s unclear what the cause of death was.”
 
It’s not yet known exactly when the birds died.
 
“Some of them have been dead longer than others. We are going to have to make that determination once our staff have arrived on the site,” he said.
“They were in different stages of decomposition so we don’t know how long they were dead at this time.”
The cause of the birds’ death is under investigation. The AER said it is working with departments from the provincial government to ensure that all safety, wildlife and environmental requirements are being met.
Courtesy of globalnews.ca

Dozens of sea birds washing up dead along beaches in Homer, Alaska, USA

The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is receiving multiple reports indicating a significant increase in dead and dying birds found on beaches in the Homer area over the last two weeks. The reports are coming from beach walkers and local citizen scientists dedicated to surveying sea bird populations. Leslie Slater is the Gulf of Alaska Unit Biologist for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. She says the number of birds reported is in the dozens.
 
“So it’s hard to give a real exact number of the normal number. I would say on a given stretch of beach we normally don’t find more than one within a couple of miles stretch.”
 
Slater says there are a lot of potential reasons for the increase in fatalities but the prevailing cause is likely tied to the birds’ food sources.
 
“What we’re seeing more precisely is that birds seem to be starving. That’s sort of the ultimate cause of their deaths but something might be happening before that. We might be having a PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning) outbreak or another situation called domoic acid where these biotoxins can build up through the food chain and ultimately cause the deaths of these birds.”
 
These deaths don’t seem to be isolated to Homer’s beaches. There are reports of similar deaths down the Alaska Peninsula and the eastern edge of the Aleutians. Slater says it’s possible they could be related to dead whales found near Kodiak. To narrow down causes of death Slater says the refuge will send carcasses of Homer’s birds to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
 
“There they have a whole team of expert epidemiologists and other wildlife disease specialists who will be able to examine them and probably come up with a real good conclusion.”
 
Slater expects the center to receive the carcasses by the end of this week and believes there could be a reply within two weeks. She asks that people continue to call in dead birds with the species name and specific directions to the bodies’ location. She warns the public not to touch dead birds because they could be carrying disease.
Courtesy of alaskapublic.org

Large die off of birds, plus fish and sea mammals at Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA

Melissa Good with UAF Alaska Sea Grant collects a sample from a Steller’s sea lion carcass by Unalaska’s Summer Bay. KUCB/John Ryan photo
Scientists have been receiving reports of dead and dying mammals, birds and small fish in the Aleutian Islands.  They think the killer might be toxic algae proliferating in unusually warm ocean waters.
 
“All the signs are that we’re having a major harmful algal bloom event,” Bruce Wright with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association said.
 
Wright said it could be the algae that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning; the algae that generate domoic acid are another possible culprit.
 
Melissa Good with University of Alaska Fairbanks has been looking for the microscopic green suspects around Unalaska.
 
“They’re a suspected cause for some of the mass deaths we’ve been seeing–the 10 fin whales that were spotted dead off of Kodiak Island; I know Adak has seen a lot of dead birds, King Cove, I believe [birds in] False Pass have been washing up. We don’t know the cause of that yet either,” Good said. “In the past, we’ve seen incidences where sand lance, a little plankton-eating fish, was accumulating these high toxins from these algae in their system. The birds were eating sand lance, these small forage fish, and were dying. No one that I know of is sure what happened.”
 
This week, Good has been taking water samples around Unalaska and shipping them off to labs for full analysis. Even just looking in her microscope on the desk in her office on Thursday, she found large numbers of the domoic acid algae in one of her recent water samples.
 
She’s also sampled the stomach and flesh of a Steller’s sea lion that washed up dead recently on Unalaska’s Summer Bay, north of the town landfill.
Melissa Good show domoic acid-making algae in a seawater sample from Unalaska.
Melissa Good with UAF Alaska Sea Grant points out domoic acid-generating “pseudo nitzschia” algae
“I didn’t see anything external that looked like a cause of death.  Sometimes, there’s gunshot wounds, ship strikes. Those things can be very obvious,” she said after looking over the 10-foot carcass on Thursday.
 
She thinks toxic algae might have killed this sea lion. One that washed up dead last year near here had very high levels of PSP.
 
In addition to the stomach, scientists sometimes study fluids in the eye for algal toxins and the whiskers. But eagles had already gotten to the eyes, and someone, Good presumed an Alaska Native with permission to use part of the protected species for materials to decorate a traditional bentwood hat, had removed the whiskers.
 
Standing next to the fresh carcass, Good said people in the Aleutians should be wary of eating clams or mussels right now.
 
“We just don’t know if they’re going to be toxic or not,” she said. “You’re taking a lot of risks there.”
 
Unlike bivalves (such as mussels and clams), crabs don’t retain the toxins in their meat, but in their digestive tracts. Scientists warn people to remove the dark viscera from crab before cooking it.
 
Shellfish in King Cove and False Pass recently have tested for twice the level of toxins that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says is safe.
 
Potentially harmful algae are always present in seawater, but it’s only when they bloom into dense concentrations that they can cause much harm to the things that eat them.
 
One of the largest harmful algal blooms ever recorded has been taking place this year from California up through British Columbia.  Officials in three states have closed beaches to razor clamming and other types of shellfish harvesting.
 
Researchers think the West Coast bloom, and recent events in Alaska, are related to unusually warm water temperatures.  
 
“We are seeing large blooms throughout Alaska, of different species,” Good said. “When you get warmer water temperatures, they became more prolific, they bloom. You’re getting a high concentration of algae.”
 
Good says paralytic shellfish poisoning appears to be getting more common in the Aleutians due to increasing water temperatures.
 
She’s waiting for results on her samples for more conclusive answers. She and Bruce Wright both ask anyone noticing sick or dead predators in the Aleutians to report them. And if you see dead sand lance fish, put a half dozen in a zip-lock bag, freeze it and send it to them.
Courtesy of kucb.org

Thousands of dead fish and dozens of dead birds found in a lake, ‘a mystery’ in London, England

Thousands of dead fish and birds have been found floating in an east London lake – less than a year after a similar event at the same park sparked an environmental health probe.
 
Cllr Jody Ganly made the grim find on Sunday while out in Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, with her 10-year-old daughter.
 
“It’s deja vu – it’s happening all over again,” she told the Standard.
 
“There were hundreds. The only fish still alive were tiny little sticklebacks and even they were gasping at the top of the lake.
 
“There were some dead birds as well. It’s just so sad.
 
“The council are spending a lot of money putting in new paths but they need to address this problem first.”
 
A source at the park said the total number of dead fish pulled out of the lake since the weekend is now approaching 3,000, while 15 dead birds have also been found.
 
The probe in September, which came after thousands of deceased fish were discovered floating on the lake’s surface, concluded a storm had caused a large amount of deoxygenated water to enter the pond.
 
Oxygen is usually pumped into the water by a fountain, but local campaigner Lorraine Moss claimed it had not been working recently.
 
In 2013, hundreds of birds died following an outbreak of avian botulism thought to have been caused by families throwing mouldy bread into the water.
 
“This is the third consecutive year there’s been a disaster affecting the wildlife,” said Ms Moss. “They should have made sure the fountain was working.
 
“It happened last year and it’s just so sad. It’s a disgrace.”
 
She added a problem with waste water disposal meant sewage regularly floods the park when it rains heavily.
 
Cllr Melvin Wallace, Havering Council’s culture chief, said: “I’m really sorry people have seen dead fish in the lake. This is an unfortunate incident that has been caused by the very hot weather and flash flooding last week.
 
“They have been removed and we continue to monitor oxygen levels, which are now back to normal.”
 
A spokeswoman added the broken fountain would be replaced this week.
Courtesy of standard.co.uk

Large number of song birds found dead in Idaho, USA

Wildlife officials are investigating after residents reported a large number of dead songbirds in Kuna, a city about 18 miles southwest of Boise.
 
The Idaho Statesman reports that the dead birds show no signs of physical injury and were not sickened by plague. Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation educator Evin Oneale says the cause of death appears to be a specific type of pathogen that has yet to be determined.
 
Oneale says no similar dead bird sightings have been reported in other parts of the Treasure Valley. He advises residents who see numerous dead birds to report them to Fish and Game immediately.
Courtesy of newsradio1310.com

Dozens of Penguins wash up dead on beaches in Rocha, Uruguay

Aparecen pingüinos muertos en Uruguay debido a las corrientes migratorias
Dead penguins appear in Uruguay due to migration flows. Photo: larepublica.pe
Dozens of dead penguins appeared in the last three days on the shores of the Uruguayan departments of Rocha and Maldonado, east of the country, due to migration flows, the National Directorate of Aquatic Resources Uruguay (Dinara).
Although the phenomenon is maintained between the parameters of the “usual”, explained the coordinator of Dinara, Graciela Fabiano, will be closely followed the issue and be in constant contact with other agencies.
 
In the case of the National Directorate of Environment (DINAMA) and the specialized units in the subject at the University of the Republic (Udelar).
 
Also, Fabiano said that the number of dead birds likely to increase in the coming days due to weather conditions such as wind gusts.
 
In this sense, he denied that pollution factors are present at the moment.
Courtesy of ultimahora.com

975,000 hens to be killed due to new outbreak of avian flu in Iowa, USA

Bird Flu

A second case of bird flu was announced Tuesday in central Iowa, with an egg-laying operation in Adair County, housing 975,000 hens, believed to be infected, the Iowa Department of Agriculture said.
 
The first outbreak in central Iowa was at Rose Acre Farms, a Winterset commercial egg-laying facility with 1.5 million chickens that was infected earlier this month.
 
An egg-laying operation with 160,000 hens in Webster County also is likely infected, the state agency said Tuesday. The new cases pushes the number of birds killed by or destroyed to contain the disease to 26.7 million. The estimate has changed as officials determine how many birds are infected.
 
The news comes as southwest Iowa residents voice concerns about a private landfill’s decision to accept some of the millions of birds stricken with H5N2.
 
A photo floating around Facebook showed a dead bird, supposedly laying on the road to a private landfill in Mills County. “Where’s the bag” designed to kill and contain the virus, asks the poster.
 
But the photo is a prank, said Sheri Bowen, the Mills County public health administrator, appointed to field bird flu questions.
 
No birds killed or destroyed by H5N2 have been trucked 200-some miles from northwest Iowa, heavily hit by the disease, to the southwest Iowa landfill that has agreed to take some of them, she said.
 
Iowa Waste System’s decision to accept birds killed by the virus or destroyed to contain it has been controversial. And fears are high.
 
A public meeting was planned Tuesday night in Malvern. Bowen said it’s important that area residents have a chance to get their questions answered by county, state and federal officials as well as landfill representatives. “We understand that folks have concerns,” she said. “We want them to have accurate information.”
 
Rain has delayed construction of roads, decontamination areas and other special measures the landfill must take to dispose of the birds, Bowen said. The earliest the landfill could accept the birds is Thursday. “We don’t even know if it will happen then,” she said.
 
State and federal officials have urged Iowa landfills to help dispose of the dead birds.
 
Another landfill, Northwest Iowa Area Solid Waste Agency near Sheldon, has agreed to take the birds.
 
In addition to landfilling, producers are composting and burying the dead birds on site, and the birds are being incinerated. But officials say they also need to landfill the birds in order to deal with a record number of birds infected by the outbreak.
 
Producers Saturday described weeks-long delays in disposing of the birds as the U.S. Department of Agriculture worked to find landfills willing to accept the birds. Additionally, USDA had to work out protocols to ensure the birds could be safely transported and landfilled.
 
Protocols include using special Bio-Zip bags for each bird to contain and kill the virus, disinfecting trucks, special routes and landfilling practices that include segregation of the birds from other waste and immediately covering them once they’re landfilled.
 
Officials have stressed the risk to humans from H5N2 is low. No human infections have been detected and there are no food safety risks for the consumer.
Courtesy of desmoinesregister.com