Unsung seabirds could help track Puget Sound health – Salish Sea Currents

You’ve likely seen them when you’ve taken a ferry across Puget Sound or the the San Juans. They are one of our common seabirds. Now, scientists are focusing on them to help determine the health of our waters. Good overview, especially to read to kids during your summer break or car trip around the Sound. Pigeon Guillemots are easy to find so help your kids become interested in why they are an important indicator species.

Pigeon guillemots have attracted relatively little scientific attention compared to other seabirds in Puget Sound. That may be because their population is generally stable, but a group of citizen scientists is helping to put guillemots on the conservation radar. They hope the birds can be used as an indicator of Puget Sound health.

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Unusual sighting of white pelicans reported in Padilla Bay – Skagit Valley Herald

If you are out and about on the water, don’t be surprised if you see some white pelicans flying around. Sitings over on Padilla Bay.

Mary Heath and Joe Bucek have grown accustomed to seeing birds in Padilla Bay from the windows of their waterfront home. But the couple spotted something rare Thursday afternoon. A group of about two-dozen American white pelicans spent several hours dining in the bay. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)


Stealing Fish To Study Seabirds- Earthfix

As anyone who has bird watched around these parts in the last 20 years can tell, it’s pretty clear we have lost seabird populations. Now some new scientific data has come out on the problem.

Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s and scientists believe pollution is partially to blame. But how do you prove that? Study what the seabirds are eating. A new paper [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X14004226] published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that seabirds in Puget Sound are eating fish that are two to four times more contaminated than fish on Washington’s outer coast. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)


State considers listing tufted puffin as endangered species – Skagit Valley Herald

When I first started coming to the Strait, in the late 70s, Tufted Puffins were quite common to see. Now, they rarely are seen.Many nested on Protection Island and the efforts to establish the island as a Federally protected place were an attempt to protect those populations.  Seems like my random observations are accurate. The state is working to see if there’s anyway to bring them back. Listing is one good starting point, but restoring the fish that these birds eat, such as herring which has seen a huge loss of resident populations, and is the target of restoration and protection, is going to be another key issue.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting public comment on a status report for the tufted puffin, and a proposal to add the Pacific Northwest bird to the state’s list of endangered species. Tufted puffins are native seabirds once common in the San Juan Islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the state’s coast, Fish and Wildlife said in a news release. But over the last several decades, 38 of 43 known breeding sites have been abandoned or seen significant declines in use. (Skagit Valley Herald)


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