September 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm #479MikeKeymaster
The Associated Press
WELFLEET, Mass.- Hundreds of sick and dying sea ducks have been
washing up on Cape Cod over the past week, raising worries from
wildlife experts about the unusually high die-off of the birds.
Bob Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society Wellfleet
Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, said the die-off of common eiders happens
annually, but said this year’s death toll appears higher than usual.
He said biologists don’t yet know the cause of the deaths each year.
Eiders are not an endangered, but Prescott said they are not doing
well in Maine, where biologists have not seen large numbers of young
“It’s not good news for them to be having this mortality (on the
Cape),” Prescott told the Cape Cod Times.
Cape Cod National Seashore wildlife biologist Bob Cook said a few
dozen dead eiders typically wash up each spring. This year, field
reports from his researchers indicate this year’s numbers appear
higher than any previous year.
Two dead eiders were sent last Monday to the National Wildlife Health
Laboratory in Madison, Wisc., for tests. Results are not expected for
a couple of months, but tests from previous years have not indicated
any conclusive cause of death.
Eiders are the Northeast’s largest duck, measuring about two feet and
weighing about 6 pounds. Male eiders have bright white plumage on
their upper bodies and dark plumage below. Eider down, the bird’s
breast feathers, are coveted for their softness.
Eiders are sea ducks that make their nests along coastal areas.
They’re commonly found in the northern coastal areas of North
America, Europe and Siberia.
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