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Old Jan 7, 2009, 3:20 AM   #11
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Isnt the world a terrible place, Would love to catch these people and hang them up by their B---s with a fish hook !!
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 12:58 PM   #12
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Lensmore, what you describe does sound like botulism - happens all too frequently, but Max has a point, too.

There are people who will pot-shoot anything that moves. I once walked around a small lake here in California and found carcasses of many birds - Ruddy Ducks, Avocets, coots - all shot. Another time at the Salton Sea I found numerous carcasses of Snowy Egrets, Eared Grebes and Terns, all shot, and hidden under clumps of vegetation, so someone tried to hide what they had done, knowng it was wrong. As far as the fish hooks go, in most cases it is not intentional, but careless at the very least, and uncaring at the worst.

The current Pelican incident, now three weeks old and worsening, is another story, though. According to the morning paper, the death toll has reached into the hundreds, stretching from San Francisco south to Baja California, so there is probably a more far-reaching cause, perhaps the coming together of several factors, possibly environmental, leading to a failure of the food supply, which may weaken the birds, making them more vulnerable to other factors - pollutants, parasites, viral diseases, or . . . ? State biologists hope for an answer by next week.
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 2:07 PM   #13
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About 10-15 years ago we had a rather rapid die off of Sparrows, not the breed indigenous to this part of the country, but the introduced variety.

They are aggressive little guys and according to some birders, had chased many of small native song birds and perching birds.

There were colonies of them all around the city, you could tell due to the continual chirp that they have.

They died off and never really recovered. The indigenous song birds and small perching birds have returned in their great variety.

I'm a bird lover, but I have to admit I'm not sorry to see the non native sparrows in very small numbers and I'm pleased to see the return of the indigenous birds. To me currently there is a balance, however long that may last.

It's very upsetting to hear of the great loss of Brown Pelicans. Are the American White Pelicans being affected ? A large number of AWP breed in large isolated lakes up here in my province, during the summer and so far they have maintained a fairly healthy population.

There were incidences a number of years ago, when people (assumed, but quite sure) boated out to some of the breeding islands and killed quite a few. I think some, wrongfully feel that the AWP eat a lot of game fish.

Conservation offices up here have made a strong effort to educate the public that the AWP generally go for what is regarded as 'coarse' fish rather than game fish.

Also the Conservation Dept. monitors the breeding areas and we have a system called TIPS...Turn In Poachers and those who wantonly kill wild life are put in the same bracket as poachers. There are rewards offered.

Another thing our Conversation Dept. has done, pioneered I believe, is to make it illegal to fish with barbed hooks. All barbs must be removed when fishing. This has been a positive step as debarbed hooks slip easily out of a fish, and birds and animals hopefully.


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Old Jan 7, 2009, 2:53 PM   #14
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As far as I am aware, White Pelicans are not affected, as this seems to be a Marine associated die-off, and Whites - being shallow water/bottom feeders normally do not go out on the ocean, remaining on inland bodies of water.

What you have heard about English (=House) Sparrows competing with native birds is true - hole nesters like Bluebirds and Purple Martins have been especially hard hit - if it were not for managed artificial nest box programs from which the sparrows are evicted, those species would likely be gone, or nearly so.

The decline in House sparrows you describe sounds like it could be disease related. there is no shortage of them around here, but crows and House Finches have declined markedly, due to the West Nile virus to which they are particularly susceptible.
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Old Jan 13, 2009, 12:33 PM   #15
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Nothing new this week, except that the die-off extends as for north as Oregon. Some birds have tested positive for algal toxins, but others seem only to be malnourished and starving, suggesting that, perhaps due to abnormally warm surface waters, fish have been driven too deep for the pelicans to reach. Pelican die-offs usually involve only juveniles in warmer months, so the season and high proportion of adult birds involved is unusual and alarming.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 9:42 AM   #16
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Sure hope they catch the perp. Bas__rd! I hate wildlife abuse. Boils my blood.......Don
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Old Jan 15, 2009, 5:33 PM   #17
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Latest update on the die-off - the local bird rescue center has had a couple of dozen dead and ill pelicans and cormorants (which it seems are also affected) over the last week. Domoic acid poisoning has been ruled out. Birds, in addition to the symptoms described above, exhibit blisters on the feet and other abnormalies resembling frost bite. There is speculation about an unknown virus, but no definite answers yet. Tissue samples of skin and internal organs have been sent to laboratories for analysis.
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Old Jan 17, 2009, 3:44 PM   #18
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Current thinking that may explain the cause of many - but not all - of the illnesses and fatalities is that about 4,000 pelicans remained in Oregon waters during the unusually mild Fall and were caught by the severe December storm that buffeted them with >60 MPH winds and subfreezing temperatures. The bruised and battered birds suffering from frostbite and illness such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and hepatitis then made their way south into warmer California waters where many have further weakened or succumbed to starvation and been found onshore.
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