[Tweeters] Puget Sound water-bird populations

Guttman, Burt GuttmanB at evergreen.edu
Mon Apr 28 20:08:04 PDT 2014


Please forgive me if this topic has been done to death before on Tweeters -- my attention has been elsewhere for some time. My main bird-related activity these days is speaking to various groups of interested people about birdy matters, conservation matters, etc., and so I need some information and perspective of the kind that Tweeters folks can supply. We all know that several years ago we could count on the waters of Puget Sound, in many places, to be rich in huge flocks of wintering birds, such as Western Grebes and various ducks. We all know that the sad situation today is far different and that often working the same areas now in the winter you feel lucky if you find some small flocks. It is an absolute mystery to me about just what has been happening, and I would be grateful to anyone who can tell me, from a sound scientific perspective, just what we know -- just what anyone really knows -- about the situation. As far as I know, the vast areas of western and midwestern U.S. and Canada where these birds breed have not been decimated, though there are always small nibblings-away from agriculture and other activities. I have seen no reports of the populations of all these species plummeting. Or am I simply wrong about all that? OK, does the problem lie in greater pollution of Puget Sound and a subsequent loss of food for wintering birds? If so, where are the birds going? In another aspect of the situation, I've seen winter flocks of other water birds drifting away with the years; for instance, on our lake here in the Lacey area only a few years ago we could count on a flock of 150-200 Coots every winter. These numbers have been eroding, so this past winter we had, perhaps 20 or so of this species. You see, I confess my vast ignorance, and I hereby plead with anyone with sound (no pun intended) information to help enlighten me.

With sincere thanks,

Burt Guttman




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