Mystery Bird Die-Off
On Oregon Coast

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello, Jeff -
Remember last week on the program I said that we will know bird flu is here when we see massive bird die offs? I also said then that I thought bird flu is already here.
Well, we now have another die-off. We never did get informaton from the Bahamas...only that the birds - an assortment of flamingos and migratory water fowl - all suddenly died of 'old age.'
Did these Oregon birds all suddenly die of old age, too?
Oregon Bird Die-Off Perplexes Scientists
Oregon Live
Hundreds of the seabirds known as rhinoceros auklets have washed up on the Southern Oregon coast, and scientists have not 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.
Explanations include a storm that killed lots of birds as they were gathering for breeding season, and warming ocean waters that are inhospitable to the bird's food source.
There were no reports of an increase of dead auklets elsewhere, said Parrish, executive director of the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team.
Beach observers said the birds started washing up this month [March 2006] off Southern Oregon, and hundreds of carcasses, as many as 20 to 30 a mile, were reported last week.
The birds live most of their lives at sea. They are scrappy, constant fliers and look like little footballs, almost pointy on the ends, black on top and white underneath.
Rhinoceros auklets (_Cerorhinca monocerata_) are medium sized birds, about 550 grams, mostly grey/black and white. They have a prominent horn on their bill during breeding season. They are most often found from British Columbia, Canada down through Washington State and Oregon.
The cause could be a number of things mentioned in this article or even domotic acid that is responsible for the die-off of these birds. We look forward to a definitive report regarding the cause. - Mod.TG
Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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