As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Mercury pollution threatens to impair the ability of birds to migrate

Migrating birds today must contend with numerous dangers and challenges that never existed before, from twirling wind turbines and shiny glass buildings in the sky to ever-shrinking amounts of stopover habitat and scores of outdoor cats lying in wait. A report from the Connecticut-based Great Hollow Nature Preserve & Ecological Research Center is now warning of a new, invisible threat to bird migration ─ mercury pollution. The article, recently published online in the journal Ecotoxicology, presents a sobering assessment of the many ways in which global mercury pollution from coal combustion and other human activities threatens to interfere with the ability of birds to successfully migrate, including their ability to navigate, sustain flight for long periods, rapidly refuel during stopovers, and avoid sickness and oxidative stress.
"Conservation practitioners are greatly concerned about anthropogenic threats to bird migration and they are also concerned about the environmental impacts of pollution, but few people seem to have put two and two together," said Great Hollow's Executive Director and the author of the study, Chad Seewagen. "While there have been many studies of the effects of mercury on reproduction and other endpoints related to fitness and health in birds, we know practically nothing about its effects on migration compared to other life cycle events."

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