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Even traces of oil on bird feathers affects flight

Cara J

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After devastating oil spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the impact on birds is easy to see when they lay dead on the ground covered in thick, murky oil. But researchers wanted to find out what happens to the birds that don’t die. How are the ones with smaller traces of oil affected by these spills? “When we were working on the Deepwater Horizon Natural Damage Assessment for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the first thing you can see is the dead birds completely covered in oil, and it’s quite easy to quantify the amount of birds that actually died because of that,” said Ivan Maggini, the lead author of a recent study on the birds. “But what is far less easy to quantify is the many birds that don’t die, or they die later because of toxic effects.” In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, Maggini and his colleagues studied how the western sandpiper (Calidris mauri), a migratory shorebird, is affected by small amounts of oil collected from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The team caught the birds with nets on the coast of Vancouver, one of the main stopover [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/even-traces-of-oil-on-bird-feathers-affects-flight/

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