Great Lakes Ducks Struggle to Survive Extreme Winter

3/18/2014 12:29:17 PM

Ducks have being dying in flocks due to the severe winter along the Niagara River from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

Biologists have tracked the deaths of hundreds of the birds since early January as ice expanded to cover nearly all of the Great Lakes.

A Greater Scaup duck flies over an open ferry channel on Lake Champlain on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Essex, N.Y. Lake Champlain is frozen solid, except for two stretches of open water where two ferries carry passengers between Vermont and New York. The only open water within miles is attracting thousands of ducks and bald eagles looking to eat the ducks. It is had the side benefit of attracting birders from far away looking to spot rare duck species. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The ice cover blocks the ducks from fishing for minnows, their main source of food, and researchers have confirmed through dozens of necropsies that their deaths have been caused by starvation.

"This is unprecedented. Biologists who've worked here for 35 years have never seen anything like this," said Connie Adams, a biologist in New York state's environmental conservation department. "We've seen a decline in tens of thousands in our weekly waterfowl counts" (Mary Esch, Associated Press, March 15).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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