Thursday, March 6, 2014

Great Black-backed Gulls...and dead diving ducks :/

Great Black-backed Gull juveniles dining on an easy, yet tragic meal
Birders throughout Wisconsin have been noticing an increased amount of deceased diving ducks on the ice-covered surfaces of Lake Michigan. Some birds were picked off by Snowy Owls, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, or other predators, but many are dying simply from being stuck on the ice and not being able to feed, and/or by obtaining parasites due to coming in such close contact with other ducks due to the lack of open water. That is what WISN Channel 12 reported, at least, based on information obtained from the Wisconsin Humane Society, which aids not only cats and dogs, but wildlife, too. Some of the birds are flying out into the streets or open farmland because they are desperate to find open water and sometimes confused large, flat surfaces for it. A major problem is that they can not take off from land like dabbling ducks and other birds can.

After learning about local diving ducks' plight, I decided to keep an eye out for misplaced divers. Before I went to the Milwaukee Harbor to search for gulls this afternoon, I drove along the lakefront and through Veteran's Park, but I did not find any divers, which is good. However, I was not surprised to see a plethora of dead diving ducks on the ice near the Milwaukee Harbor upon my arrival. The only positive I can see is that scavengers like gulls and predatory birds like those I mentioned above may be provided an easy meal by dining on the dead divers. In any case, it's unfortunate. If you see a stranded duck and are able to help it, please do. (See the second link for info).

Link to WISN article

Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife tips

Great Black-backed Gull, adult, coming in for landing

Another view of an adult Great Black-backed Gull
One final image of  an adult Great Black-backed Gull
Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull and a Herring Gull, plus two deceased ducks

Great Black-backed Gull juvenile in flight

Great Black-backed Gull, juvenile, again in flight

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