San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 2, 2014: Rare changes in wind patterns this fall have caused the Pacific Ocean off California and the West Coast to warm to historic levels, drawing in a bizarre menagerie of warm-water species. The mysterious phenomena are surprising fishermen… El Niño isn’t driving this year’s warm-water spike… Nor is climate change… All year [NOAA] scientists… have been forecasting an El Niño… But now the water is only slightly warmer than normal at the equator, leading scientists to declare a mild El Niño is on the way… The ocean changes also have affected birds. As ocean upwelling stalled in the summer, less krill and other food rose from the depths. As a result, several species of birds, including common murres, had high rates of egg failure on the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco. Continue reading »
A class of pesticides widely blamed for a worldwide collapse in pollinator populations is also devastating populations of birds, according to a new study conducted by researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Centre for Field Ornithology and Birdlife Netherlands, and published in the journal Nature on July 16.
The chemicals, known as neonicotinoids, have increasingly come under fire for widespread destruction of organisms other than agricultural pests. Continue reading »
Asahi Shimbun, June 25, 2014: [Noboru Nakamura, a researcher at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology] has visited the riverbed [in Fukushima] 20 times […] looking into whether the earthquake or the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused abnormal changes among wild birds. […] [Researchers] first verified abnormal change [200 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi] in Niigata Prefecture […] Oct. 24, 2011, a common reed bunting, a small migratory bird, was found with uneven tail feathers that had a moth-eaten appearance. The institute started emergency surveys […] The most perplexing thing was the overly long feathers […] Its feathers very reliably grow to a certain length […] [Kiyoaki Ozaki, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology deputy director-general,] could not imagine a reason for them to be longer. By March 2012, the same abnormality was identified at all research sites across Japan, such as Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Shizuoka, Shimane, Kagawa and Fukuoka [over 1,000 kilometers from Fukushima]. The proportion of birds with the abnormality was 13.8 percent. In at least one place, the ratio exceeded 25 percent. Birds born in 2011 account for 97.3 percent of the specimens with the abnormality. […] Researchers have found feathers that already appear moth-eaten when they split open the sheath. Some birds even grew back feathers with the same deformity after the researchers plucked out older, misshapen feathers. […] One thing is certain: The common reed […] pass through or stop in the Tohoku region during their migration.
San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 26, 2014: In the past year, Monterey Bay has become the richest marine region on the Pacific Coast. In the past three weeks, it has reached a new peak with unbelievable hordes of anchovies, along with other baitfish, and with it, the highest numbers of salmon, marine birds, sea lions, gray whales, humpback whales and orcas anywhere. The bay ignited with life […] upwelling in the underwater canyon and jump-started the marine food chain. […] A week ago Monday, the humpbacks and killer whales arrived. Tony Lorenz on the Sea Wolf sent me an alert, that he saw 50 humpback whales […] A school of Pacific white-sided dolphin, numbering over a thousand, has also been sighted […] the orcas found a mother gray whale with a calf […] dragged the baby whale below the surface and drowned it […] In the past few days, Lorenz reported another attack, where the orcas dragged a carcass of a baby whale around for hours, and then when a sea lion showed up to see what was going on, it got nailed, too.
Los Angeles Times, Dec. 29, 2013: Bald eagles are dying in Utah — 20 in the past few weeks alone — and nobody can figure out why. […] Many suffered from seizures, head tremors and paralysis […] Many of the eagles were brought to the mammoth Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah […] Within 48 hours, most were dead. […] State wildlife specialists are baffled. […] At first, the agency’s disease scientists guessed the illness could be encephalitis, which is caused by the West Nile virus, but later ruled out that possibility. […] Officials at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center have their own theories. Some point to radiation from Japan after the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. […] A call from Idaho shed new light: A wildlife official said bald eagles there were also getting sick, suggesting the birds were arriving in Utah already in bad health.
KUTV, Dec. 28, 2013: Wildlife experts are on high alert as more bald eagles are found suffering from a mysterious illness […] It’s a very big concern. Wildlife experts have never seen anything like this before with bald eagles. […] Wildlife experts have never seen bald eagles suffer like this before in Utah and scientists are unsure of what is making them ill.
KSTU, Dec. 15, 2013: Officials thought the symptoms might have been from lead poisoning, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. […] “I don’t think words can describe what you see and what you feel, and the helplessness and trying to figure out what’s going on,” [DaLyn Erickson, executive director at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah] said. Symptoms suffered by the birds include, leg paralysis, wing paralysis, head tremors and seizures.
WTMJ, Dec. 26, 2013: Wildlife experts say they’ve never seen anything like this before. […] “Weakness in the legs, weakness in the wings. And then very quickly move into having tremors, and then full blown seizures.”
Laird Henckel, environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): [P]elicans that would have normally migrated as far north as British Columbia decided to stick around the Central Coast, where an anchovy smorgasbord is taking place. […] “In 2011 and 2012, the pelicans got up there and ran out of food […] They were starving and scavenging for food” […] During this three year period, brown pelicans were reported to have been killing murre chicks for food […]
Wildlife biologist Deborah Jaques of Pacific Eco Logic in Astoria, Oregon, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): “Not as many birds flew north this year” […] she does not know what is directly causing the decline […] The large quantity of anchovies in Monterey Bay may have helped the pelicans avoid another year of starvation that has been affecting the birds for the past three years […] “Breeding success on the Channel Islands was really poor for the last three years […] For reasons unknown […] many pelicans have been overwintering in the north during the last several years instead of migrating back south around November as is expected. […] Patterns are changing, and I believe the pelicans are responding to these large scale changes.”
Alaska Dispatch, Nov. 26, 2013: Hundreds of dead seabirds wash ashore on Alaska island in Bering Sea […] perhaps thousands […] following storms that slammed into Western Alaska earlier this month and littered stretches of St. Lawrence Island with the carcasses of crested auklets, murres, ducks and other birds. Facebook alarmists feared Fukushima radiation was to blame […] The expanse of the death zone and the variety of birds — cormorants and northern fulmars were also found — suggest storms that recently lashed the region with powerful gusts may be the culprit, said [Peter Bente, a state wildlife biologist] […] Still, samples of the carcasses were sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., for testing. […] The victims were nearly all young […] scores of dead and sick ringed seals — some with open wounds, unusual hair loss and internal ulcers — that began washing up in summer 2011 in Western Alaska. Even today, a few seals continue to trickle ashore […]
Perry Pungowiyi, an island resident: “[Radiation’s] always on the backs of our minds.”
The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.
“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be responsible for a decline in New Zealand’s muttonbird population.
A Department of Conservation study found only two-thirds of birds returned to an area near Auckland, after spending the northern summer in Japan – some only 20km from the plant, which was crippled in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March last year.
A year after Fukushima, the government has asked residents to bury radiated soil in their own backyards. But how dangerous is the dirt and where should it go? NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel reports.
Scientists are focusing on Japan’s Fukushima area after a study published this week found an alarming development at another nuclear disaster site — Chernobyl.
The proportion of female birds has fallen off since the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, the study found, and that appears to be causing male birds to increase their chirping in efforts to find a mate.
“The Chernobyl zone is a population sink, or an ecological trap, that brings in new birds each year but these birds suffer lower survival,” co-author Tim Mousseau, a University of South Carolina biologist, told msnbc.com.
“In other words,” he said, “the Chernobyl zone is not an eden for wildlife” as some have claimed.
Mousseau, who’s leading a team along with Anders Pape Moller of the University of Paris-Sud, is now in the Fukushima area preparing to test birds there for radioactivity from the nuclear reactors hit by the tsunami after the March 11, 2011, earthquake.
NBC’s Richard Engel visits the exclusion zone surrounding Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
“We will be placing small dosimeters on birds and measuring body content of radionuclides,” he said. That will also be done this summer around Ukraine’s Chernobyl area, where earlier testing focused on counting birds.
For the Chernobyl study “we collected 1,080 birds using mist nets in forested areas that were highly contaminated but also in areas that were effectively ‘clean’ and sites in between,” Mousseau explained.
“In the more contaminated areas, most birds were yearlings, suggesting that survival rates were significantly lower in these areas than in clean ones.”
Researchers working around Japan’s disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.
In the first major study of the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.
A video posted by a resident somewhere in Fukushima Prefecture in June last year shows two birds in his/her front garden unable or unwilling to fly even when approached by a human.
The video was uploaded by MAYODORA in June 2011; it was posted at GeorgeBowWow’s blog on December 23, 2011 (his blog is in Japanese only). GeorgeBowWow thinks the birds may be affected by radiation. The bird (bulbul) in the beginning of the video dropped from the persimmon tree, MAYODORA writes in the Youtube description of the video. MAYODORA says he/she measured radiation on the bird with his/her survey meterand it was rather high.
No information as to what happened to those birds afterwards.
Clearly the comment section of the video on Youtube was trashed, and commenting has been disabled.
Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) — Japan is culling about 410,000 chickens at a farm in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki as avian influenza spreads to the nation’s second-biggest growing region for poultry.
The government is taking measures to contain the disease as the H5 flu virus has been detected in chickens found dead in the farm in Shintomi town, about 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) from where the first flu outbreak this year was confirmed, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Officials in Miyazaki culled more than 10,000 chickens on Jan. 22 after six out of 36 chickens found dead at a separate farm tested positive for influenza.