Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bad Day for Eared Grebes

Alex Chamberlain, Blue Desert Digital
A news story from ABC4.com describes a crash landing of tens of thousands of Eared Grebes in Cedar City, Utah during a winter snow storm.  They escaped a cold sky through the clouds and apparently mistook snow covered surfaces with lights on them, such as parking lots, for lakes and tried to make a water landing.

Thousands were injured or killed on the solid landing and others were stranded in the cold as they require a large water surface to get airborne again.

Apparently, the birds can not survive the cold or land on frozen water and came down en masse to find shelter from the storm that hit Cedar City.  An estimated 15,000 grebes died but the community was able to save 3,500 by transporting them to nearby open water.

We can do little to prevent these situations but as we move into nature and remove some natural food sources, it serves as a reminder that it is time to refill the bird feeders.

Note from Charley Burwick:
We hear about this type of wet surface crash landing at night during ran storms fairly often.  A few years ago we had shorebirds that crashed on several Springfield streets at night during a rain storm.  One of the birds was a species we typically only spot at our large waterfowl refuges.  Interesting stuff. 

Pictures are at abc4.com/Photo.
Thanks to Katie Gerecht for the lead.

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