I thank Mark and Graham for their informed comments. They expand my
But, like Tonya, there are still some questions that my land based
birding mind is trying to come to grips with?
As these birds take food from the sea and are happy swimming on a
frequently lumpy ocean - what precisely causes the deaths? Do they
attempt to fly through extreme wind conditions and perish through the
exhaustion of food reserves, or is the wind speed so great that they
cant handle either flying or swimming and become water logged and/or
unable to feed - or is there some other factor, like no surface ocean
From: Mark Carey
Sent: 29 November 2010 22:52
To: Innes, Angus; Birding Aus
Subject: Dead Shearwaters
S7N+S6iRw!24K9kRYFeqxLUGmcI2zkwkqZPi5jK2rp2Ftw==> to report this email
Is it really that surprising that after a journey from the Bering Sea
back to Australia that a few birds die? Wrecks of Short-tailed
Shearwaters (STSW) and other seabirds occur regularly all over the
world. In Australia, wrecks are common at this time of year because
STSW adults returned at the end of September. Juvenile wrecks occur in
April/May after they fledge. Some birds just aren't going to make it.
Given the breeding population is estimated to be between 23 -30 MILLION
I don't think the numbers that have been reported will have any
significant impact on the population.
Wrecked birds can be very useful to science. Birds can be used in a
number of different ways such as looking for effects of plastic
ingestion, heavy metal contamination and staple isotope studies.
Numbers and timing of wrecks can also be used to infer migration. Don't
forget, all birds should be checked for leg bands. STSW are the third
most banded species in Australia (120,000 to date!).
> Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2010 11:17:54 +0000
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Dead Shearwaters
> Tonya's post about the dead ST Shearwaters in southern NSW, extends
> grim picture that had been painted by my daughter who lives beside the
> beach at Peregian on the Sunshine Coast of Qld - by several hundred
> About the first week in November, she, and a young boy who happened to
> be walking on the beach, moved by compasssion rather than rationality,
> had been prompted to enter the surf to rescue a couple of floundering
> young shearwaters and took them to the Australian Wildlife Zoo -
> inevitably without a happy ending.
> Apparently there were many dead shearwaters along the northern
> Coast beaches and there had been even more a couple of weeks earlier.
> She is not sufficiently knowlegeable to have aged the dead birds she
> on the beach on those occasions, although the floundering birds were
> I join Tonya in an interest to hear explanations of the phenomena -
> likely causes and whether juveniles are particularly at risk.
> Angus Innes.
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