[Tweeters] Hawk article from the news tribune

Lynn & Carol Schulz linusq at worldnet.att.net
Tue Feb 1 09:04:20 PST 2005


Hello Dawn and All:
Thanks for the link to the Hawk Beak Deformity article that appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune today.  This hawk malady was also mentioned on local NPR yesterday.  Here is the article from the TNT website minus the pictures.  The top two paragraphs refer to the pictures on the website of a Red-tailed Hawk's beak, and of Bud Anderson up in a tree retrieving a hawk.
Yours, Carol Schulz
DesMoines, WA
mailto:linusq at att.net
--------------------
Article in Tacoma News Tribune, Feb 1, 2005

Hawks die mysterious deaths

FRANK VARGA/SKAGIT VALLEY HERALD
Deformed beaks, such as this one, can keep red-tailed hawks from
eating.

MATT WALLIS/SKAGIT VALLEY HERALD
Bud Anderson, a falcon researcher, climbs a tree to retrieve a dead
red-tailed hawk earlier this month near Burlington, Skagit County.

MOUNT VERNON - It took some effort for Bud Anderson, a falcon
researcher in Bow, to pull the dead red-tailed hawk out of a tree on
the Samish Flats. The freezing weather and the bird's rigor mortis had
wrapped it around a branch.
Anderson climbed about 5 feet off the ground. He reached out with his
bare hands and pulled the bird free, dropping it to the snow on the
ground. The first place he studied was the bird's beak.
The top half of the beak had already rotted and fallen off, but
looking at the lower half, Anderson saw a familiar deformity that
might have led to the bird's death.
For the past two years, Anderson's organization, the Falcon Research
Group, has documented a mysterious disorder among an alarming number
of hawks in Western Washington.
The disorder causes the birds' beaks to grow faster than normal and
makes it harder for the hawks to hunt. In some cases, the deformity
has developed to such an extent that the birds can't eat, leaving them
to slowly starve to death.
Reports of the disorder in hawks range from British Columbia to
Central California and include four different species of hawks.
Unconfirmed cases of the disorder have been reported in Los Angeles,
Texas and Minnesota and include crows and common seagulls.
The cause of the disorder, whether it is tied to pollution or to a
disease, is unknown. For now, there are more questions than answers.
If the hawk Anderson found dead in the tree last week is determined to
suffer from the disorder, it will be the 60th instance of the
deformity since Anderson first saw a long-billed hawk in 1997.
Anderson said he is convinced the 59 confirmed cases are not normal.
"There have always been records of birds with long beaks, but what we
see is a concentration of them, and that is troubling," Anderson said.
Some oversized beaks Anderson has found are a few centimeters too
long. Others are too long by a matter of inches.
In some cases, birds have been able to adjust to the deformations and
continue to hunt. Others are hopelessly starving to death. Some birds
have misaligned their jawbone to accommodate the longer beak. Other
birds cannot close their mouth, or the two parts of the beak have
curved together so that the bird cannot eat unless it uses the side of
its mouth.
As new instances of the disorder are reported to Anderson, he said he
worries the disorder might be far more widespread and far more serious
than he yet realizes.
"The wildlife population is a finely balanced unit," he said. "Add
something there to tip the balance and it creates problems."
A disorder among hawks could have ramifications throughout the
ecosystem.
Hawks are the primary predators of many ground rodents - mice, voles
and gophers - as well as smaller birds. If the hawks cannot hunt these
animals, their population could grow unchecked and have a serious
impact on farmland.

The red-tailed hawk is found across the country. Researchers fear
that, if the cause of the long beaks is a virus or a bacteria, it
could affect hawks nationwide.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Dawn Bailey 
  To: Tweeters 
  Sent: Monday, January 31, 2005 11:41 PM
  Subject: [Tweeters] Hawk article from the news tribune


  Hi tweets,

  Bud Anderson is in the News Tribune today, if you go to the website:

  www.thenewstribune.com and put hawk in the search it will give you the article, the url is so long I did not want to post it.


  Dawn Bailey
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