The BP oil spill is about to hit closer to home as millions of migratory birds from Canada will soon stop over in the Gulf Coast on their way South for the winter.
CTV reports that 40 to 60 species of birds across Canada and the US, including ducks, pelicans, gulls, herons and sandpipers, are beginning to head towards the Gulf area. Many are expected to never return from the immensely polluted waters. Some of these birds, such as the endangered piping plover, spend winters along the Gulf Coast while others use its shores to stock up on food before flying to Latin America, explains USA Today.
As oil continues to rise to the surface, countless birds have died and thousands more will be in danger due to migrations. Habitats are forever changed as oil has seeped into plants and marshes, destroying food sources. USA Today reports that although it is almost impossible to steer migrating birds away from instinctive destinations, conservationists such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service are taking action by paying landowners to let their farmland relax, provide food and restore wetlands to create habitats for migrating birds. The creation of barrier marshes/islands, along with beach cleaning projects and bird population monitoring, are also key protection strategies.
Migrations coupled with the possibility of an active hurricane season in the oil-slicked waters could threaten multiple bird species and cause unpredictable effects on ecosystems and natural resources. The loss of birds will throw ecosystems off-balance and negatively affect insect and fish populations, not to mention the livelihood of human beings. If we do not take swift decisive action against the black plague that is the BP oil spill, the health of our planet may indeed suffer.