Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Surprise Visitor

Spectacled eiders are threatened throughout their range (Federal Register, May 10, 1993). So you see how important it is, that we do our best with this bird (as we always do with all birds). He was brought to Bird TLC by US Fish & Wildlife with 3 fractures to it's left wing (see x-ray picture). The wing is in good alignment for now. We're unable to wrap it to keep it in place (being a water bird), so the bird is being kept quit and isolated. In his food he's given itraconazol, an anti-fungal to help prevent asper. We expect him to be with us 2 to 3 weeks.

Here's some info just in case your unfamiliar with spectacled eider.

Spectacled eiders are large sea ducks, 20‑22 inches long. They are diving ducks that spend most of the year in marine waters where they probably feed on bottom‑dwelling molluscs and crustaceans.

Historically, they've nested along much of the coast of Alaska, from the Nushagak Peninsula in the southwest, north to Barrow, and east nearly to the Canadian border. They also nested along much of the arctic coast of Russia. Today, three primary nesting grounds remain; the central coast of the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta, the arctic coastal plain of Alaska, and the arctic coastal plain of Russia. A few pairs nest on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska as well. Their fall and winter distribution was virtually unknown until satellite telemetry lead to the discovery of spectacled eiders at sea in 1995. Important late summer and fall molting areas have been identified in eastern Norton Sound and Ledyard Bay in Alaska, and in Mechigmenskiy Bay and an area offshore between the Kolyma and Indigirka river deltas in Russia. Wintering flocks of spectacled eiders have been observed in the Bering Sea between St. Lawrence and St. Matthew islands.

Between the 1970’s and the 1990’s, the breeding population on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta declined by over 96%, and only about 4,000 pairs nest there today. Historical data for other nesting areas are scarce. Scientists don’t know if populations ever declined in Northern Alaska or Russia, although the population is currently in slow decline on the Arctic Coastal Plain, where about 3,000‑4,000 pairs currently nest on Alaska’s arctic coastal plain, and at least 40,000 pairs nest in arctic Russia. Winter surveys in the Bering Sea, which includes non‑breeding birds, indicate a worldwide population of about 360,000 birds.

Causes of the decline of spectacled eiders are not well understood. Lead poisoning, caused spent lead shot consumed by eiders, has been documented in this species on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta. Subsistence hunting is also a threat to spectacled eiders.

Predation by foxes, large gulls, and ravens on the breeding grounds may be increasing in areas where populations of these predators are enhanced by the year‑round food and shelter provided by human activities and garbage dumps. Complex changes in fish and invertebrate populations in the Bering Sea may be affecting food availability for spectacled eiders during the 8 to 10 month non‑breeding season. Spectacled eiders may also be affected by other shifts in the Bering Sea ecosystem, by commercial fisheries, and by environmental contaminants at sea.

Hunting of eiders is regulated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Sport and subsistence hunting of spectacled eiders has been closed in Alaska since 1991. However, reported subsistence harvest on the Yukon‑Kuskokwim Delta has averaged 255 spectacled eiders per year over the past ten years. Non‑toxic shot must be used for all waterfowl hunting. Use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting has been prohibited throughout the United States since 1991.

Spectacled eiders are threatened throughout their range (Federal Register, May 10, 1993). So you see how important it is, that we do our best with this bird (as we always do with all birds). He was brought to Bird TLC by US Fish & Wildlife with 3 fractures to it's left wing (see x-ray picture). The wing is in good alignment for now. We're unable to wrap the wing to keep it in place (being a water bird), so the bird is being kept quit and isolated. In his food he's given itraconazol, an anti-fungal to help prevent asper.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Blogger has changed the way you insert pictures in your post. I like it. So I decided to edit the pictures on this post and it didn't work and to boot I had already erased the pic's from the post (dah). They've been re-entered on 6/25 a by themselves. Sorry.