Monday, September 22, 2008

Neverending Surveys

This weekend, we surveyed our two beaches for washed-up seabirds. The surveys lasted for several hours each, as we found 48 birds between the two beaches.

We found this pair of wings at Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City. The wing cord was 18.5 cm and it looks like they belonged to a cinnamon or blue-winged teal, but we are not sure which. Anyone know how to tell the two apart? The wings had a light blue patch between the elbow and the wrist, white spots on the secondary coverts, and some green coloring on the secondary coverts.

The most common birds by far were juvenile common murres that fledged during the last few months. The carcasses were near adult size, but their measurements were a little short of adult averages.

The sternums of the birds were mostly cartilage, in various stages of ossification progressing from the anterior end downward. In previous years, the dieoff occurred when fledglings were much younger, so it was interesting to see them in this stage of development.


Monika Wieland said...

Hi there, my dad directed me to your blog after seeing a link for it posted on OBOL (Oregon Birders OnLine). I love your mission of looking for interesting biology wherever you can find it! The name of your blog is great. I'm a fellow Oregonian (from Portland) and a recent college grad with a degree in biology, and I'm also blogging about my biological encounters up in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington where I'm living for the year.

I'll add a link to your blog and look forward to following your updates! It would be fun to chat biology sometime ;)

nina said...

Gosh, that looks like a crime scene.

Amber Coakley said...

I just left a comment on your IATB #84 entry - my first visit to your blog. I didn't realize what you did for a living - wow. This must be hard, always dealing with dead, washed-up birds. I just wrote about our global shores, the problem of debris, and the international cleanup day that happened this past Saturday, Sep. 20. What is the cause of the washed-up birds? I sure hope it is not due to something man-made!

Max said...

Monika - Thanks for visiting, I look forward to seeing more of you San Juan photos.

Nina - Our surveys are definitely the closest I will ever get to watching CSI.

Amber - Unfortunately, I don't get paid for the bird surveys, it's a volunteer gig. Every year there is a normal die-off of juvenile seabirds, there is just not enough fish for all the hungry mouths out there.