Bird mortality: Galveston Island, Texas.




King, K.A.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


An estimated 5,000 dead birds of at least 32 species washed ashore on Galveston Island beaches on 7 and 8 May 1974. Of this total, about 62% were migrating passerines, including warlbers, thrusher, flycatchers, and blackbirds, 23% were shorebirds, and 8% were terns. Three blue-winged teal seen by state game wardens were the only waterfrowl found dead. Carcasses were counted on 0.1-mile transects, one per mile, along the 29 miles of shoreline on the seaward side of the island and were found in concentrations up to 47 birds per 0.1 mile. A severe spring storm that hit the upper Texas Gulf Coast 5 May probably caused this bird mortality, April and May are months of heavy spring migration in this area, and the four days preceding the storm were ideal for bird movements northward, with prevailing breezes from the south and no precipitation. On 5 May, the storm came in suddenly from the north, bringing high winds and severe thundershowers. Two tornados touched ground on nearby Bolivar Peninsula. Prevailing winds continued from the north on 5 and 6 May. By 7 May, the winds had changed to southeast, and large numbers of dead birds began washing ashore. Decomposition of the carcasses indicated that the birds had died about two or three days earlier.




ornithology, mortality, aquatic birds, marine birds