Florida Fish and Wildlife: More than 150 birds found dead on Central Florida beaches

Environmental /

Birds galore in New Smyrna Beach

These young gals feed birds on beach of New SmyrnaBirds on New Smyrna BeachHeadline Surfer photos by Sera Frederick / These photos, taken in 2008 on New Smyrna Beach, are indicative of the array of birds on the beaches of Central Florida.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have received reports of more than 150 dead or distressed greater shearwaters, gull-like birds, along Florida’s east coast in Brevard, Indian River, St. Johns and Volusia counties this week.

After examining some of the birds, researchers believe these deaths are related to stress from the species’ long, trans-Atlantic migration.

Greater shearwaters migrate from their primary breeding grounds in Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Africa, across the Atlantic to Canada, according to the Peterson Field Guide for Eastern Birds.

“This long migration, coupled with storms and high winds, can take its toll on some immature and older shearwaters, sapping their strength and making it difficult to feed,” said Dan Wolf, an FWC research biologist. “Upon examination of some of the dead greater shearwaters this week, we found the birds were young and emaciated, consistent with normal migration mortality.”

Birds are a typical sight over the sand and surf of New Smyrna Beach.

Migration-related deaths of greater shearwaters occur every year around this time, though the number varies.

In 2007, researchers received reports of about 1,000 dead shearwaters during the migratory season.

Since Monday, citizens and wildlife rehabilitators from Vero Beach north to Ponte Vedra have reported finding these dead birds in areas along the shoreline.

Because greater shearwaters live most of their lives on the open sea, the deaths are only seen alongshore when winds are blowing inshore. The public can report dead birds to the FWC online at MyFWC.com/Bird. Anyone who encounters a dead or distressed bird is asked not to handle it. For assistance with sick or injured birds, citizens should contact a local wildlife rehabilitative facility.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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