The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Hunting for Beached Birds: SEANET

Posted by | March 17, 2010

Beached Eider

"You never know what the day will bring!" That is especially true of my job as Natural Resource Specialist here at the Wells Reserve. For instance, last week my task was to walk down the length of Laudholm Beach with Nancy Viehmann in search of beached birds. This is part of a monthly survey for a nationwide program called SEANET.

The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET), based at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, is an ongoing project assessing seabird mortality along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Over 100 citizen scientists volunteer to walk an assigned stretch of beach once or twice a month, record environmental data and report both dead and live birds seen on the beach.

Occasionally we find a beach bird and then the work begins. If it is still alive, we bundle it up and notify the wildlife rehabilitators. Most usually, the bird has expired. Then we get to work trying to identify the type of bird it is by its remains. We have a most unusual  shorebird guide that helps us identify birds by their feet, the length and shape of its bill or the length of its wing chord (from the wrist bend to the end of the longest primary feather). We also attempt to determine the cause of death. Did we find oil on the bird? Was it entangled in fishing gear? Did it look preyed upon? Often there is not much left of the bird to enable us to solve the mystery.

This is not your run of the mill birding project! SEANET is always looking for dedicated  volunteers to adopt a section of beach to patrol looking for beached birds. If this is something that you might be interested in doing you can find out more information at:

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