First off, my thanks to Mary Wright who should really be the one running our Dead Bird Quiz. She posted a comment with a good lead on an additional source for culmen lengths. Aside from our own Beached Bird Field Guide, I generally refer to Cornell University’s Birds of North America for linear measurements. For many species, however, the BNA’s data are incomplete, and I am most grateful for Mary’s input on the matter. Also, her point is well taken regarding the raptor in the most recent DBQ: measurements would go a long way toward ruling in or out a species. Mary takes issue with my assertion that the bird was a young Red-tailed Hawk, and I would genuinely like to know, Mary–what would you suspect it is? (I am merely a veterinarian who likes birds. Mary is truly a birder.)
As for today’s actual “news,” today’s post will sound depressingly familiar to many of you. The most recent post on the subject was back in March when I updated you on the numerous dead pelicans turning up on Topsail Beach in North Carolina. That last batch of birds was found in December of last year, and autopsies on the birds suggested that they may have drowned in fishing nets. The birds turning up now appear to have broken wings and most of them are turning up on the southern end of Topsail Beach. A couple of birds were captured alive, but had to be euthanized due to the severity of their wing injuries. Several birds from this recent event have been submitted to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Survey (SCWDS) for autopsies, and SEANET will report those results as soon as we hear of them. In the meantime, we hope that the folks in the Topsail Beach area continue to keep their eyes and their minds open about the situation. While the current mortality event may be due to the same causes as the last one, something entirely different may be at work this time. We hope the fine pathologists at SCWDS can work their magic on this one.