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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beached Birds at Brickyard?

Once a month I walk the shore of Brickyard Beach checking for dead birds. No, I don't have some kind of avian vampire streak that raises its head with the new moon. I do the monthly beach walk as a volunteer participant in The BC Beached Bird Survey, a research project of Bird Studies Canada.

What's a Beached Bird Survey?
The BC Beached Bird Survey collects baseline information on the causes and rates of seabird mortality. Volunteers do monthly beach walks along selected beaches (such as Brickyard) looking for seabird carcasses that have washed up.

Dennis walking the wrack line at Brickyard Beach

Causes of Seabird Mortality
Seabird can die from oil spills, entanglement in fishing gear, predation and because of habitat loss and climate change. Good indicators of marine ecosystem health, they can serve as an early detection system for changes in ocean conditions and oil spills. You can read more about the program here:

Sometimes Dennis accompanies me on the walk. I was glad he did last month because we found a dead female mallard just at the shoreline. (It's very helpful to have two people on the survey when you find a dead bird; one person does the measurements and photos and one records the data.)

Dead female mallard

After taking measurements and photos we tagged the bird's wing. The tag tells us that this particular bird has already been identified so we don't count it again next time, skewing the data. If we do encounter the same bird again, we submit data on the rate of deterioration and scavenging to Bird Studies Canada.

Tagged mallard

If you happen to see a dead bird at Brickyard Beach with a tag attached to it, you'll know it's been identified and is being tracked by the BC Beached Bird Survey. If you have any questions feel free to comment below. And for more information about the Beached Bird Survey in general, please email or call 1-877-349-2473.

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