Birds at risk from the Gulf Oil Spill

By Audubon, Thu, 29/04/2010 - 17:35

Brown Pelican -The state bird of Louisiana nests on barrier islands and feeds near shore. Their breeding season just began and many pairs are already incubating eggs. Removed from the U.S. Endangered Species list only late last year, Brown Pelicans remain vulnerable to storms, habitat loss and other pressures. Their relatively low reproductive rate means any disruption to their breeding cycle could have serious effects on the population.

Beach-nesting terns and gulls (Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Least Tern, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer) - These birds nest and roost in groups on barrier islands and beaches. Some species have begun nesting or building pair bonds in preparation for nesting. They feed on fish and other marine life. Roosting and nesting on the sand and plunging into the water to fish, they are extremely vulnerable oil on the surface or washing ashore.

Beach-nesting shorebirds (American Oystercatcher, Wilson's Plover, Kentish [Snowy] Plover) -These birds nest on the ground on barrier islands and beaches. They feed on small invertebrates along the beach or – in the case of oystercatchers – on oysters. They are at risk if oil comes ashore or affects their food sources.

Reddish Egret – Populations of these large, strictly coastal egrets have dwindled due to habitat loss and disturbance. As specialized residents of coastal environments, they have nowhere else to go if their feeding and nesting grounds are fouled by oil.

Large wading birds (Roseate Spoonbill, Ibises, Herons, Egrets) - Many herons, egrets and other species feed in marshes and along the coast and nest in large colonies called rookeries. They are vulnerable if oil comes ashore in these areas. The central Gulf Coast region hosts continentally and globally significant populations of many of these birds.

Marsh birds – (Mottled Duck, Clapper Rail, Black Rail, Seaside Sparrow, Marsh-Dwelling Songbirds) – Many of these birds are extremely secretive, hindering understanding of their population dynamics. Recovery efforts would be difficult or impossible if oil accumulates in the coastal salt marshes where they live.

Ocean-dwelling birds -Birds that spend a significant portion of their lives at sea, including the Magnificent Frigatebird, may be affected by oiled waters. Contact with oil could lead to ingestion or damage to feathers. Oil also threatens their food supplies. These birds are difficult to monitor, and potential impacts are not fully understood.

Migratory shorebirds (plovers, sandpipers and relatives) - These birds' travels span the western hemisphere. But many species are currently en route from wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in boreal forests and arctic tundra. They congregate in great numbers on beaches and barrier islands to rest and refuel during their long journeys.

Migratory songbirds (warblers, orioles, buntings, flycatchers, swallows, and others)- Many of our most colourful and familiar summer songbirds fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico twice each year as they migrate between their breeding and wintering grounds. The biggest push of spring migrants moves across the gulf during a two-week period from late April to early May. The journey across 500 miles of open water strains their endurance to its limits. They depend on clear skies and healthy habitats on both sides of the gulf in order to survive the journey.

To read the latest news about the Gulf Oil Spill, visit Audubon’s website (BirdLife Partner in the US) or see the latest within the BirdLife Community.

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the oil spill in Mexico would surely be one of the greatest environmental disasters for this year.~*`

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!
Nick Askew's picture

Thanks! We're delighted you like it.

Hi there can I reference some of the information here in this entry if I reference you with a link back to your site?
Nick Askew's picture

Please do. Glad you found BirdLifes site useful.

Considerably, the nightmare of the Gulf oil desaster is actually a burning question. Your post is valuable contribution to this bloody oil desaster. One has to look at it in depth. In fact I do not concur with some minor points in general Im agreeing to your position. I am looking forward to incoming updates, which probably brings help and terminates the oil desaster.

When will people learn about the dangers. I can't even bring myself to look at any of the pictures or videos.

I am not an activist but a concerned individual that worries what huge impacts this will have on the future of our bird's and the hole it will leave on our web of life? I think people need to relax on the demands of oil/fuel thats being taken for granted and the effort need's to be towards trying to help the needs of the wildlife that is being impacted on our future especially by those individuals that do take oil use for granted. Please Put aside all differences, don't avoid it and ignore it, and stop arguing and do something about it now before realization sets in when they don't return to migrate again and they all disappear forever. This is important for everyone's future and all living things including your families and future of your children. I'm not a preacher but as an example, money was not needed for building an ark years ago to sustain the survival then for all living things, we can do something if we all pull together in this to help sustain our wildlife today. This may be a sign of somekind towards humanity and the effort for change and what it really means to you and your family's future.

This gives a better chance to have better.

I think other web-site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and magnificent user friendly style and design, let alone the content. You're an expert in this topic!

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