Helping those oiled birds on the Gulf Coast

Published 6:40 pm Monday, July 26, 2010

We have all seen those photographs and video clips coming from the Gulf of Mexico; whether it is Brown Pelicans floundering around in a sea of brown slimy oil or Least Terns flying ashore to incubate their eggs unwittingly causing a probable nest failure. Unquestionably this is a massive environmental disaster and these are just the effects that we can see. Theres a bigger problem under the surface as this mass of oil spreads and continues to obliterate many species of marine life.

The list of birds affected by this tragedy continues to grow, and while the majority of the birds treated are Brown pelicans, other species now coming in to be cleaned include White Pelican, Laughing Gull, Sandwich, Common and Least Terns, Black Skimmer, several shorebirds and even Roseate Spoonbill. To be honest, there are few birds, including all of our coastal seabirds, shorebirds and even marsh species, that wont be affected by the spreading oil.

Its easy to sit back and just comment on these television reports, rue our dependence on oil – foreign or otherwise and do nothing. But there are thousands of people out there helping and giving a lot of their personal time and energy to combat this ignorant destruction of our native wildlife, including a large number here in Western North Carolina.

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We at Wild Birds Unlimited are pleased to announce our association with Wildlife Rescue of Western North Carolina and the International Bird Rescue Research Center and are acting as a drop-off point for vital supplies and medical equipment to help with the wildlife rescue operations in Louisiana. The next rescue mission is imminent and several volunteers will be leaving from Asheville on the July 28th.

Local wildlife rehabilitator, Sherry Johnson, has just returned from Plaquemines Parish in southern Louisiana, where she worked with the Audubon Society and International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). Sherry and her husband, Stewart Johnson, will return to the Gulf on July 30th with the items donated, so please give what you can.

We at Wild Birds Unlimited, both in Hendersonville and at our store in Asheville, are taking donations up to Thursday, July 28th. We need everything from paper towels to plastic tubs. The complete list is on the home page of our website: where all of the other pertinent information is also outlined.

I may even be heading down there myself to help out- we shall see!

Thanks very much indeed and if you have any questions, just call us at the store on 828-687-9433.

Simon Thompson has lived in WNC for the past 16 years. He owns and operates his own birding tour company, Ventures Birding Tours.

If you have birding questions, please drop Simon an e-mail at the above site.