Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dead Ducks

A creek near Boise, Idaho, has been the scene for a bizarre cluster of mallard deaths. Over 1,000 mallards have died there recently. So far, the cause of the deaths is unknown.

The symptoms — lesions in the lungs and hemorrhaging in the heart wall — likely point to a bacterial infection, not avian flu, said Dave Parrish, regional supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game....

Migrating mallards from Canada and their local cousins were still perishing at Land Springs Creek near Oakley, about 180 miles southeast of Boise. Birds stagger and struggle to breathe before collapsing, said Parrish.

"There were dead mallards everywhere — in the water and on the banks. It was odd, they were in a very small area," Parrish said.

The outbreak puzzles scientists because only mallard ducks are dying. Golden eagles, geese, magpies, crows and other birds in the area all remain healthy, Parrish said.

Tissue samples from the ducks and water samples from the creek were sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national laboratory in Wisconsin, the University of Idaho and Washington State University. Results were expected Thursday.
(Link via Little Birdie, a great source for bird news)