Oil Spills & Birds: The Consequences of Oil Soaked Birds
Human behavior and actions result in the killing of multiple species of animals every single day, from the smallest of insects such as ants and bees to the biggest of mammals such as dolphins and lions, our extreme attempts at industrialization are having a bad effect on both the environment and its inhabitants.
The same goes for birds and especially the devastating oil spills effects on birds. In recent times, there have been many stories stating sightings of oil-covered birds, which has led to the information spreading throughout many social platforms in an attempt to publicize the effects oil spills are having on our precious wildlife.
What Is an Oil Spill?
To better understand the effects oil spills are having on birds, let’s first understand a little more about what an oil spill actually is and how it occurs. An oil spill is essentially a leakage of petroleum that spreads into a body of water such as oceans, rivers, and lakes. The oil itself is one of the most important and widely used resources in the world and is constantly being transported through importation and exportation carried along the waters by massive ships and through the cities pipes lines.
This type of fragile transportation comes with a lot of risks and there have been several reported incidents in which the vessel has an issue or breakage resulting in a leak or spill of the oil. The problem is that this oil leakage is toxic and dangerous and can cause some serious health problems.
How Do Oil Spills Affect Birds?
While most of us known that these deadly oil spills and leakages have a large and devastating effect on the environment and marine life n particular, it also has a bad effect on birds too. Even the tiniest drop of oil can cause a mountain of issues for these little animals, especially those who inhabit shore land or are passing through during the migration process.
The birds that are most affected by oil spills and petroleum contamination are those that spend most of their lives in or by the water, that includes species such as:
Birds who feed in polluted areas such as eagles and ospreys can also be severely affected by the oil spill damages and have resulted in the appearance of hundreds of oil-soaked birds.
The Effects of Oil Sills on Birds
- There are a few different ways in which oil spills birds are affected, the most seen and most obvious being that they land up being coated in it, a sticky, greasy slime-like substance that traps their precisely designed feathers. The problem with oil being caught up in the bird’s feathers is that it removes their natural waterproof and insulation capabilities. The oil will also cause their feathers to matt and become misaligned which can result in the bird experiencing a huge loss of body heat and exposing them to what could be fatal weather conditions. The heaviness of the oil weighing if the outer surface of the birds can also make them heavier and thus without proper alignment they can sink and drown in polluted waters. This is not where the effects of an oil-covered animal end, birds will try everything in their power to remove this oil from their feathers, they will begin to preen excessively bitting their feather back and forth but at the same time ingesting the toxic chemicals of their oil covered bodies. These toxins will affect their kidneys, liver, lungs, and intestines and cause a very slow and painful death.
- Oil has more impacts on the bird’s species than just covering their feathers, and can affect their entire living spaces and other birds that may have not even been as they are during the time of the spill. An area that has experienced a large oil spill will become uninhabitable for birds as their foods supplies will begin to dramatically decrease due to being poisoned by toxins. Their once nesting areas may be covered in oil, making them completely uninhabitable and dangerous. This could affect the eggs of the birds if they are nesting during the time of the pollution outbreak. Even if the birds ingest the oil in real;y small amounts and not be subject to its effects immediately, over time these toxins will gradually affect the bird’s entire ecosystem by being absorbed into food supplies, causing more species to die as a result.
What Can Be Done?
While a large amount of oil spill and the result of leaving a duck covered in oil or a bird eating contaminated resources is largely about the transporting companies themselves, there are a few things that we ourselves can do to help these beautiful creatures from experiencing threats and death as a result of human behavior. Some of the things that you can do to help include :
There are also programs and groups looking for extra volunteers to help clean up affected habitats that have recently suffered the consequences of oil spills, this could include helping clean up areas of the region or even attempt to remove the oil from the bird’s feathers.
Donating is another thing that can really help organizations to put in a larger financial effort towards the cleanup after an oil spill, they may need extra materials to help them get the best result possible.
Nowadays, there are many organizations that are aiming to resolve this issue by bringing awareness about the problem to others, being a part of such an organization and reaching out to the uneducated is a key factor in helping the birds for the future.
It’s really important that if you happen to come across an area that is polluted as a result of an oil spill, or you witness a bird struggling with the devastating effects it can have to report it to local authorities so that they can not only help the animals but also find the cause of the problem.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the effect of oil on the feather of shorebirds, bird habitats, and food supplies are more than devastating and a lot worse than many of us would like to believe. Whether it’s an affected oil-spill duck, seagull, eagle, or penguin, the end result is never pretty and can cause lifelong problems for entire species. The best thing you can do is to help by bringing awareness to these issues and getting hands-on involved in organizations that are trying to make a change.
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