Bird Group Warns that Oiled Birds Found Onshore May Be a Fraction of the Total Toll on Birds From Gulf Spill

For Immediate Release

American Bird Conservancy
Contact: 

Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210, bjohns@abcbirds.org

Bird Group Warns that Oiled Birds Found Onshore May Be a Fraction of the Total Toll on Birds From Gulf Spill

WASHINGTON - As bird rescue groups prepare to deal with hundreds
or
potentially thousands of oiled birds resulting from the Deepwater
Horizon oil spill
in the Gulf, American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick
cautioned that
the toll from the spill may be far greater when the unseen impacts are
factored
into the environmental disaster still ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico.

 “While the weather is restricting rescue efforts, I
know that rescue groups are prepared to do  everything humanly possible
to
capture and save as many oiled birds as they can find, but there are
problems
well beyond our abilities to mitigate or even count.  In addition to the
potential catastrophic losses to shorebirds that we know to be at risk
on their
breeding grounds and in the wetlands around the gulf, the oil spill
poses a
serious threat to seabirds,” Fenwick said. 

“Many will likely die unseen far out in the Gulf. 
For
instance, in the Exxon Valdez spill, it was estimated that assistance
and
rescue staff only saw about one of every ten birds affected.  Luckily,
in this
case, most of the adult gannets have already headed north to their
breeding
grounds, so the juveniles are the ones that are likely to get affected
in the
Gulf right now.  In addition to these plunge-diving birds, surface
foragers
such as terns and gulls that alight on the water are vulnerable,
particularly
this time of year,” he said.

 “Further, what is difficult to measure is the loss
of
future generations of birds when birds fail to lay eggs or when eggs
fail to
hatch.  Many of the birds are incubating eggs right now, and we know
that even
small amounts of oil on the parent’s feathers will kill the young,”
he said.

“And bird prey bases are also impacted. The very
fisheries that sustain the economy of the region also sustain the
seabirds
along the coast.  The impacts to fish stocks may have substantial,
long-lasting
effects on seabird,” he said.

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American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

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