This morning, Don Ware of Ft. Walton alerted us to a number of dead birds being found on nearby beaches. In both Okaloosa and Walton counties, numbers of dead neotropical migrants AND some seabirds are being found washed up on the beaches. There appears to have been no severe weather associated with the first ones found (prior to Saturday's [the 24th] storms). The first birds that we know of were found on Friday, the 23rd. Winds were SE prior to the birds washing up, so it would suggest they came from that direction. In addition, I believe the current along those beaches is primarily from the SE.
Please look out for dead birds on any gulf beaches you walk, patrol, etc. Though we can't do anything about it, at least we can quantify numbers. It's normal for some migrants (not seabirds!) to fail in their migration, but these reports seem to be well above that which we would expect. If you find dead birds, try to identify if possible or just list the finding as "songbird" or "seabird" or "gull" if you cannot ID them to species. (It would be wise to handle any dead bird with rubber gloves or a plastic bag over your hand.) So far, Scarlet Tanagers, various warblers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks as well as petrels and a shearwater have been found. All have been too far "gone" for salvaging from what we understand.
We are searching the internet for infrared satellite images of the Gulf of Mexico for April 21- 23, but so far have not found any. Any help?
Any theories about the cause?
The following blog cites several people who have been finding dead birds on the beaches.
There is also a very poor YouTube from St. George Island, FL of birds being found on the beaches yesterday.
Lucy and Bob Duncan
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