[Tweeters] Puget Sound water-bird populations

Rob Sandelin nwnature1 at gmail.com
Tue Apr 29 16:54:10 PDT 2014

The decline of western grebes is apparently a shift in winter population
locations, probably due to the decline of smelt in Puget sound and the
increase in Herring off California. Details here:


Rob Sandelin

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Guttman,
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2014 8:08 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] Puget Sound water-bird populations

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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