The American Bird Conservancy has mapped breeding areas affected by the BP oil spill.
What is the Likely Impact on Birds?
The concern for birds are three-fold.
- The first is the immediate threat to individual birds from oil contamination. The first oiled birds are now being collected and sent to rehabilitators in the region. Many birds could be killed but never collected, particularly 'plunge-diving' birds such as pelicans, gannets and terns.
- The second is from reduced food availability due to contamination of seafood stocks. Many of these are the same stocks that are the foundation of much of the regional coastal economy.
- The third concern is from oil impacts to bird habitat. There are a number of Globally Important Bird Areas directly in the path of the advancing spill that are under immediate threat.The long-term effects on birds will be decreased breeding success as nests fail due to contamination of eggs that come into contact with oil and due to birds being forced from contaminated areas to marginal breeding sites or sites that are already at maximum capacity.