Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘cormies’

April 18, 2009

New Bay Bridge will have "Corm Condos"

The long-delayed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project might be good for the birds too. New “Corm Condos” are being built to give cormorants a newer place to nest underneath the $6 Billion bridge.

The 2 1/2 foot wide steel perches are being added to the eastern span of the Bay Bridge at a cost of $550,000. Double-Crested Cormorants have been roosting beneath the old span for more than 20 years.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s columnist’s, Matier & Ross, poked fun at the Caltrans project in 2005: “The Bay Bridge boondoggle has something for everyone — even the birds.”

Adding:

If the birds don’t take to the new digs on their own, biologists will try to entice them by painting cormorant silhouettes on the perches, playing recordings of cormorants and putting up mirrors on the platforms.

Then there’s the $750,000 that Caltrans is spending under a four-year contract for a small boat crew of binocular-armed ornithologists. Their job is to scour the old bridge for as much as 10 hours a week, keeping an official count of the cormorants along with a handful of endangered birds that inhabit the structure, including brown pelicans, peregrine falcons and least terns.

In reality, we’re trying to share the fragile bay waters with a lot of wildlife and this cost doesn’t seem to high to help the birds have new nesting areas when the old span – built in 1936 – makes way for a newer bridge in 2013. If we can spend $15 million on adding bike lanes to the bridge, another million and change seems fair.

And hello, it turns out measures to protect the cormorants are because of federal and state regulations to help native and endangered habitats.

The original Bay Bridge has been the subject of concern after since a top deck roadbed section collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989.

Read more on the Corm Condos at SFGate.com

April 16, 2009

High winds causing Cormorant strandings?

A notable spike in patients has local marine bird rescuers puzzled. In the last two days, International Bird Rescue Research Center in Northern California has received 13 stranded marine birds, mosty Brandt’s cormorants. Eleven more of the snake-necked birds are expected to arrive from San Jose, CA this afternoon.

Another oddity is that many were found in Bay Area parking lots and on roads when they should be found on beaches or jetties.

For these specialists in aquatic bird rehabilitation, a higher than normal number of patients always signifies a greater problem, as was the case this winter with the scores of ailing pelicans.

While it is premature to say exactly why so many of these birds are falling ill, Jay Holcomb, director of the aquatic bird facility believes the recent high winds may have contributed to the strandings.

This speculation that unusual weather or climate change may be impacting sea birds is supported by recent word from Farallon Islands researchers that the Brandt’s cormorants have not started nesting, as they should. The atypical winds, choppy seas, and sparse zooplankton may be the reason.

Last year researchers reported the smallest breeding population of Brandt’s with the lowest reproductive success in twenty years. Researchers hope this is not the sign of another colony failure.

The birds in convalescence are being treated for superficial wounds and are doing well. The rescue organization is asking for help from the public in reporting birds that appear injured or stranded and donations to help cover the cost of their care.

For rescues people are urged to call the California wildlife hotline at 866-WILD-911 for the nearest rescuer.

News reports:

KTVU-2: High Winds May Be Injuring Cormorants

CBS-5: High Winds Pose Threat To Sea Bird Nesting