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Friday, September 14, 2007

Beached Birds and SEANET

I put aside the following thread of emails hoping I'd eventually have time to post something about it.

Back in August, Matt Wills emailed me about a sick Common Loon at Dead Horse Bay. The back and forth emails are a good example of how, even in the most densely populated city in the country, there are people who will go out of their way to protect & save our wildlife.

This experience also made me aware of an important organization - "Seabird Ecological Assessment Network". It is a collaboration between several dozen government and non-profit organization whose ultimate goal is to reduce and eliminate the growing threats to an increasingly stressed group of animals.

From: Matthew Wills
Date: August 11, 2007
To: Rob Jett

Hey, Rob

I was at Dead Horse Bay today and walked right up to this Common Loon. [...] First time I've ever seen them on land. I don't think this one is well, though, considering I walked up to within five feet of it. I think it has a lame leg. It did move as I was watching, away from the rising tide that was beginning to nip its tail. The immature was off-shore, probably keeping an eye on me.

Date: August 11, 2007

To: Ron Bourque

I don't know if you and Jean are around Floyd Bennett Field this weekend, but if you are or know who to contact about this poor thing ... and if it's not too late.


From: Ronald & Jean Bourque
Date: August 15, 2007

Hello Rob,

We did find the very lethargic [Common Loon] and a nearly paralyzed Great Black-backed Gull. (See attached photos) Someone had built a lean-to to shelter the loon from the sun and provided water in a plastic container. The sub-adult Great Black-backed Gull was throwing his head back as though to keep his head out of the water - but there was no water near it. It is possible that both birds are suffering
from Type E Botulism but these symptoms - other than the apparent paralysis of the wings and legs - are not typical of botulism poisoning. Generally the necks of the birds become flaccid. The loon keeps his head perfectly erect.

I contacted and spoke to Tony Luscomb about these birds and he said he would tend to them. Capturing a live loon can be dangerous; their bills are formidable weapons and they can strike out with lightning speed. If I get further word about the fate of the loon, I will let you know.

From: Ronald & Jean Bourque

Date: September 3, 2007
To: Nina Schoch

Hello Nina,

Fred Koontz asked me to send you these photographs of a Common Loon that has been coming ashore repeatedly in just about the same place on a local beach. When a NPS ranger went to investigate the condition of the Loon some two weeks ago it had left the beach and was seen swimming not to far from its beach resting site. At that point it was assumed the bird was healthy enough to sustain itself. We are concerned that it quite vulnerable when it comes ashore. It makes no attempt to move away or escape into the water when approached within 5 feet. ( I have attached 3 photos)

From: Nina Schoch

To: Ronald & Jean Bourque

Thank you for contacting me about the loon that is beaching itself and for sending me the photos.

Unfortunately, the poor bird is probably pretty sick to be beaching itself so regularly, as they do not come to shore unless they are nesting or feeling very sick. It's probably not moving away from you because it's weak and doesn't have the energy to move a lot on the sand. I don't see any obvious injuries in the photos, but it could be suffering from lead poisoning (from accidentally ingesting lead fishing tackle), aspergillosus (a fungal infection of the respiratory system), or a variety of other internal injuries or diseases.

It could be transferred to a rehabilitation center to diagnose it's problem and provide care if possible. [...] However, loons do not do very well in captivity for rehabilitation, so it's chances are probably almost as good if you just left it be to go back & forth into the water. It is a good sign that it is going into the water periodically.

I look forward to hearing from you about its outcome.

Dr. Nina Schoch, Conservation Scientist
Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Loon Conservation Program,

From: Ronald & Jean Bourque
Date: September 5, 2007

Subject: Beached Loon

Hello Rob,

To keep you up to dated on the beached Loon first reported on August 11th. [...] I have attached a photo of the loon that was taken on September 1st, the latest Beached Bird Survey we did for SEANET.

We intend to keep a watch on the loon with no attempt to capture it for rehabilitation.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

1 comment:

Pamela said...

I look forward to you posting any further info.

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