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.
Little penguins are dying in their hundreds, leading conservationists to fear they are starving as a result of the La Nina weather system.
Other seabirds are washing up dead on beaches, raising concerns that species could become extinct if climate change causes extreme weather events to become more frequent.
At Wellington Zoo, two starving little blue penguin chicks have been brought in this week. One died on Wednesday and the other, found at Lyall Bay, was hanging on to life yesterday.
The zoo’s veterinary science manager, Lisa Argilla, said petrels were also starving around Wellington’s south coast, and five shags had been brought in this month. “They’re unable to find enough food. We’ve had a lot of starvations and a lot of mortalities.”
At Banks Peninsula, hundreds of little white-flippered penguin chicks have died of starvation, according to Shireen Helps, who has been caring for the colony on her property for about 25 years.
Founder of sanctuary treating the birds blames chemicals in the water.
Hundreds of Eastern brown pelicans, some with missing wings and frostbite, have been injured or killed in the St. Johns River the past couple of weeks in the Mayport area.
The exact reason is unknown but the cold weather could have caused hypothermia when the birds landed in the water. The pelicans have been losing a protective coating they have on their body to shield their feathers from becoming saturated by water.
Cindy Mosling, co-founder of the Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary on Big Talbot Island, thinks chemicals in the water could be the culprit.
More than 200 starlings were found dead in downtown Yankton Monday. Officials attribute the cause of the deaths to the fact that the birds had not migrated from the area.
It is estimated that more than 200 dead starlings were found in downtown Yankton Monday. However, it is not believed the deaths pose a threat to humans.
Yankton Animal Control Officer Lisa Brasel estimated that she collected 200 starlings Monday, and employees of the city Parks and Recreation Department were also on the scene picking up deceased birds. The total number of corpses gathered up by city employees has not yet been compiled.
“I talked to one of the local vets, and they said there is nothing wrong (with the birds),” said Brasel, who took specimens to a veterinary office. “They just didn’t migrate and are dying. (The next question of a scientist should have been: Is there something wrong with the earth’s magnetic field or why else should birds ‘forget’ to migrate?) I was going to call the South Dakota Department of Health to see what they have to say about it, but they are closed today (because of Martin Luther King Day).”
The birds were found around trees on the north side of Riverside Park, as well as on the north side of Second Street between Capitol and Pine streets.
Authorities in Romania say dozens of starlings died of alcohol poisoning, not avian flu as feared.
Romeu Lazar, the executive director of the veterinary health department in the Black Sea port of Constanta said on Wednesday a post-mortem revealed the birds ate grape residue that had fermented and their bodies could not handle the alcohol.
He says they did not have avian flu, which hit the area several years ago.
All the birds falling out of the sky had clear signs of trauma too.
About 300 dead blackbirds were found along I-65 in Athens on Wednesday morning. (Carson Clark, WHNT NEWS 19 / January 12, 2011)
ATHENS, AL — Wednesday morning, we got a handful of emails and phone calls from viewers who said there appeared to be a massive bird kill on the side of Interstate 65 in Limestone County. That’s exactly what we found when we got there.
Just south of Athens, near mile marker 347, there were around 300 dead blackbirds just off the side of the northbound lanes.
The viewers who called us said the birds seemed to just fall from the sky, but we spoke to a wildlife biologist at the scene who says there is an explanation for what happened.
“What it appears to us right now is that the birds were feeding alongside the road,” said Mitchell Marks. “The flock flushed, flew out into a vehicle and we’ve got this kill here along the road.”
All of the dead birds had clear signs of trauma, but Marks collected a few to examine them.
Overeating and indigestion blamed for 1,000 turtle doves falling dead in Italy with strange blue stain on their beaks
Mystery solved: Rodolfo Ridolfi, from a zoological institute in Faenza, said indigestion was responsible for the recent deaths of 1,000 turtle doves
Thousands of dead turtle doves that rained down on roofs and cars in an Italian town were victims of their on greed, an expert claimed today.
Residents in Faenza described the birds falling to the ground like ‘little Christmas balls’ with strange blue stains on their beaks.
Last night it emerged that 40 turtle doves had also been found dead at San Cesario near Modena, 60 miles from Faenza, and tests were also being carried out on their bodies.
he birds have been found by residents in the village for the last three days and they alerted authorities after hearing reports of the incident at Faenza.
Gianni Sereni, who found 12 birds in his garden, said: ‘At first I didn’t think anything of it but then I saw the reports on the news about what had happened elsewhere so I called the local veterinary service.’
Initial tests on up to 1,000 of the doves from Faezna indicated that the blue stain could have been caused by poisoning or hypoxia.
Around 500 dead blackbirds and starlings have been found dead in the US state of Louisiana just days after 3,000 birds fell from the sky in Arkansas.
Biologists have been collecting the bodies of the latest victims and sending samples to laboratories for analysis Photo: AP By Victoria Ward 7:58PM GMT 04 Jan 2011
The latest discovery was made along a stretch of a main road some 300 miles south of the town where red-winged blackbirds rained out of the darkness onto rooftops and pavements and into fields on New Year’s Eve.
Biologists have been collecting the bodies of the latest victims and sending samples to laboratories for analysis.
The birds found in Beebe, Arkansas, three days earlier, were thought to have died from blood clots and internal injuries that were blamed on a fireworks display. (BS)
It is not known whether the Louisiana birds suffered the same fate.