Scientists attempt to explain winter seabird losses

Little Auks by Michael Haferkamp One tends to forget how precariously balanced life can be, especially for birds. It was reported here, just recently, how competition for Horseshoe Crab eggs in Delaware Bay was impacting Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) numbers. Knots were not able to build up sufficient energy reserves and were perishing en route to their breeding grounds as a result. In this example, scientists believe that high seabird mortality rates in the North Atlantic could be a result of birds not being able to feed due to harsh weather conditions. Science Daily reports:

ScienceDaily (2009-07-17) — Every winter, thousands of seabirds are washed up on shore having perished in unexplained “winter wrecks.” To find out why so many seabirds die, researchers calculated the energy requirements of Little Auks and Brunnich’s Guillemots and found that the birds may not be able to eat enough to survive the North Atlantic’s harsh winter conditions. [more here]

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