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Disease takes toll on N.W. Ind. lake birds
At George Lake in Hammond, Ind., on Wednesday, you could see nearly 50 live waterfowl, three dead ones and one gadfly named Carolyn Marsh.
A birder and wildlife advocate, Marsh tipped state and federal officials to the deaths of 34 mallards, sandpipers, plovers, killdeer and other birds in what may be the only outbreak of avian botulism this summer in the eight-state region that includes Indiana and Illinois.
"It was heartbreaking," said Marsh, who found eight dead mallards on Sept. 3, and on Sept. 11 bagged nearly two dozen dead shorebirds for testing. Other birds died over the next few days.
"Some of them were fluttering or limping," she said. "They couldn't run or fly and finally died."
Researchers Baffled By Flocking Sea Birds
SAN FRANCISCO -- Scientists are stumped about why thousands of rare seabirds are suddenly being spotted on land in Northern California.
The small birds, called red phalaropes, live many miles off the Pacific coast and usually only land in the Arctic, where they breed and raise their young.
But bird enthusiasts began spotting the birds in Sonoma County on Christmas Day, and flocks have since been reported in residential neighborhoods in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Los Gatos, among other areas. The largest sighting was a flock of 1,200 near Half Moon Bay.
Scientists said many of the birds are emaciated and weak from flying in strong ocean storms, which may have pushed them onto land to look for food. Some have fallen victim to predatory cats and gulls, while others have reportedly been struck and killed by drivers along Highway 1.
Mysterious Bird Deaths
The mystery remains over why some birds fell from the sky dead Sunday evening.
We first told you about the birds Sunday night, and that some nearby residents were so worried they locked themselves inside their home. They told us they found about a dozen dead black birds littering the small community of West.
We spent much of the day in West talking to police and Department of Wildlife agents, who are trying to figure out why the birds mysteriously died.
Overnight, residents reported black birds falling out of the sky.
And Wildlife experts admit they still don't know what killed the birds, but they're running tests on some of the carcasses they collected. And in the meantime, they warn this could happen again.
The good news is it's not the bird flu, according to the Texas Department of Wildlife. But officials say as a precaution, the dead birds should not be handled.
the serenity prayer
G0d, grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change,
the courage to change the things i can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Bird die-off perplexes scientists
Hundreds of the seabirds known as rhinoceros auklets have washed up on the Southern Oregon coast, and scientists haven't settled on an explanation for the die-off.
The birds seem to be in good shape off California and Washington, a researcher said.
"The questions in my mind are: Is this something that's widespread in Oregon? Is it a freak event like a storm or something that's going to last longer?" said seabird researcher Dr. Julia Parrish, an associate professor of biology at the University of Washington.
Razor-thin birds wash up on shore
With ocean temperatures warming to unusually high levels over the past three years, scientists noted a string of odd happenings affecting marine life from northern California to Alaska.
Here is what has happened this year:
1. British Columbia coast: Cassin's auklets washed up dead.
2. Oregon coast: Rhinoceros auklets washed up dead from the Columbia River to Newport.
3. Whidbey Island: A Humboldt squid, normally found in Mexico and Southern California, turned up on the beach on Jan. 2.
What happened in 2004-2005:
1. Triangle Island: Nesting success plummeted for the Cassin's auklet.
2. Lake Washington and Ship Canal: About half the 2004 run of sockeye salmon -- some 200,000 fish -- failed to materialize. Scientists suspect overly warm water was the cause.
3. Protection Island: Last summer, glaucous-winged gulls that normally fledge about 8,000 chicks produced only 88.
4. Tatoosh Island: Breeding started late for common murres last spring. Only about one-fifth fledged chicks, compared with up to four-fifths in a good year.
5. Northwest coast: Tens of thousands of common murres and Brandt's cormorants -- emaciated at a time of year they should be flush -- turned up dead on Oregon and Washington beaches in spring 2005.
6. Southern Washington to Alaska Panhandle: Numerous sightings of Humbolt squid, which normally live off Southern California and farther south, in October 2004.
7. Northwest coast: Gray whales migrating from Mexico to the Bering Sea had so exhausted their fat reserves that their bodies were misshapen as they passed by last spring.
8. Northwest coast: Scientists trawling for young salmon found counts extremely low in spring and fall 2005.
9. Northern California: Scientists trawling for young rock- fish found counts very low in 2005.
10. Farallon Islands: Auklets abandoned their nests in unprecedented numbers. Where hundreds of chicks normally are produced, only a handful were in 2005. Lack of food is blamed.
11. Monterey, Calif.: Large number of seabirds found dead on beaches in spring 2005.
Fewer and fewer birds are migrating from California to Canada. Scientists are worried that this mysterious disappearance of birds may point to a larger problem.