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Oil in Gulf of Mexico Spells Disaster for Young Birds as Breeding Season Unfolds [Slide Show]

How will the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf impact the bird populations of the South Coast?

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SORA:

The sora is called a secretive marsh bird because it hangs out in dense, young marsh vegetation. Like related clapper rails and king rails, these birds are rarely heard and even more seldom seen.

Clapper and king rails in particular are high on ornithologists' concern list due to their limited distribution, lack of habitat and close association with brackish and saltwater marshes.....[ More ]

SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER:

Migrating plovers and sandpipers spend the winter months farther south and are now coming through the Gulf in large numbers, en route to breeding grounds as far north as the Arctic. Along the way, they're foraging on mud flats and low beaches exposed at low tide.....[ More ]

PIPING PLOVER:

Plovers skitter along the glistening zone on beaches where the waves lap at the shore, foraging for insects and invertebrates. They are easily spotted, with their yellow legs and a distinct dark band around the neck.....[ More ]

ROYAL TERN:

Both royal terns and Sandwich terns, the latter named for the place they were described on the English coast, are on the front lines of birds experiencing the heaviest impacts from the Deepwater Horizons spill.....[ More ]

MAGNIFICENT FRIGATE BIRD:

Magnificent frigatebirds move into the Gulf for the warmer months.

Once called man-o'-wars, the birds are kleptoparasites. They watch other birds fish, then harass them until they drop their catches.....[ More ]

LAUGHING GULLS:

Easily identified by a red beak and a striking black head during the breeding season, laughing gulls are common along the Atlantic coast in North America and into northern South America. Their fishing lifestyle means that laughing gulls will be among the hardest hit if the oil spill encroaches on the beaches.....[ More ]

BROWN-ER PELICANS:

The southeastern United States supports about 90 percent of all the brown pelicans in the country, and 40 percent of those live on the Gulf Coast between Louisiana to the Florida panhandle. The birds were losing vital habitat to erosion on the east side of the Mississippi Delta when they got the double whammy of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.....[ More ]

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