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Oil Spill Alert: Help Rescue Florida’s Coastal Birds
The disastrous spill and leakage of oil from the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig is drifting toward Florida’s Gulf Coast. Help rescue Florida’s coastal birds. The 3,200-square-mile slick is just miles from Florida’s pristine, westernmost Panhandle beaches. If efforts to stop its progress fail and oil continues to drift toward us and along the peninsula, it could harm birds, seagrass beds, coastal marshes, and eventually the mangrove islands off the Florida Keys.
You can take action in many ways:
- Volunteer to rescue injured birds and to clean oil off Florida’s beaches and other coastal areas.
- Sign the petition opposing state and federal plans to expand oil drilling in Florida’s water.
- Contribute to our special fund to rescue birds injured by the oil spill and underwrite advocacy so this never happens again.
- Recruit your friends and family to join Audubon’s response efforts.
Your time and money can make the difference.
Add your name, address, telephone and email address to Audubon’s rescue volunteer registry. Should oil make landfall on Florida’s beaches, Audubon will function as a clearinghouse, connecting local members of the volunteer registry with oiled wildlife response leaders for your area’s beaches.
Sign the petition calling on President Obama, Governor Crist and other public officials to drop proposals to expand oil and gas exploration near Florida’s coastal areas. They cannot ignore thousands of Floridians standing together like we did at our statewide Hands Across the Sand rallies February 13th.
Contribute to our special fund to rescue oiled wildlife, should it become necessary, and underwrite advocacy to Protect Florida’s Beaches and our coastal birds and wildlife. Your money will be used exclusively to fund wildlife rescue and treatment and to tell national and state decision makers that Florida’s coast is too important to put it at risk from dirty and dangerous oil drilling.
|Some Birds At Risk:
Brown Pelican - The state bird of Louisiana nests on barrier islands and
feeds near shore. Their breeding season has just begun and many pairs
are already incubating eggs. Removed from the U.S. Endangered Species
list only late last year, Brown Pelicans remain vulnerable to storms,
habitat loss, disturbance and other pressures. Their relatively low
reproductive rate means any disruption to their breeding cycle could
have serious effects on the population.
Beach-nesting terns and gulls (Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern,
Least Tern, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer) - These birds nest and roost
in groups on barrier islands and beaches. Some species have begun
nesting or building pair bonds in preparation for nesting. They feed on
fish and other marine life. Roosting and nesting on the sand and
plunging into the water to fish, they are extremely vulnerable to oil on
the water’s surface or washing ashore.
Royal Tern © RJ Wiley
Beach-nesting shorebirds (American Oystercatcher, Wilson’s Plover, Snowy
Plover) - These birds nest on the ground on barrier islands and beaches. They
feed on small invertebrates along the beach or – in the case of
oystercatchers – on oysters. They are at risk if oil comes ashore or
affects their food sources.
Snowy Plover © Dave Kandz
Reddish Egret – Populations of these large, strictly coastal egrets have
dwindled due to habitat loss and disturbance. As specialized residents
of coastal environments, they have nowhere else to go if their feeding
and nesting grounds are fouled by oil.
Reddish Egret © James C. Leupold/USFWS
Large wading birds (Roseate Spoonbill, Ibises, Herons, Egrets) - Many
herons, egrets and other species feed in marshes and along the coast.
and nest in large colonies called rookeries. They are vulnerable if oil
comes ashore in these areas. Florida’s central Gulf Coast region hosts
continentally and globally significant populations of many of these
Roseate Spoonbill © Charles Hanlon/SFWMD
Marsh birds – (Clapper Rail, Black Rail, Seaside Sparrow, Marsh-Dwelling
Songbirds) – Many of these birds are extremely secretive, hindering
understanding of their population dynamics. Recovery efforts would be
difficult or impossible if oil accumulates in the coastal salt marshes
where they live.
Clapper Rail © Andy Wraithmell
Ocean-dwelling birds - Birds that spend a significant portion of their
lives at sea, including the Magnificent Frigatebird, may be affected by
oiled waters. Contact with oil could lead to ingestion or damage to
feathers. Oil also threatens their food supplies. These birds are
difficult to monitor, and potential impacts are difficult to quantify.
Laughing Gull © J. Good
Migratory shorebirds (plovers, sandpipers and relatives) - These birds’
travels span the western hemisphere. But many species are currently en
route from wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in
boreal forests and arctic tundra. They congregate in great numbers on
beaches and barrier islands to rest and refuel during their long
Piping Plover © RJ Wiley
Migratory songbirds (warblers, orioles, buntings, flycatchers, swallows,
and others) - Many of our most colorful and familiar summer songbirds
fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico twice each year as they migrate
between their breeding and wintering grounds. The biggest push of spring
migrants moves across the gulf during a two-week period from late April
to early May. The journey across 500 miles of open water strains their
endurance to its limits. They depend on clear skies and healthy habitats
on both sides of the Gulf in order to survive the journey.
© RJ Wiley
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