To play Devil's Advocate for a second: Great Shearwater is regular from
mid-May to late August off Suffolk County, so their occurrence in Nassau is
not really that surprising, and might be explained by something like the
improved quality of feeding offshore from Nassau, for which there is some
recent evidence. I agree that the shearwater kill requires an explanation,
but I remain unconvinced that the birds were significantly off course.


On Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 8:24 AM, Shaibal Mitra <>

> Hi Dick and all,
> I think it's fair to say that the multi-hundreds of Great Shearwaters
> observed from the Nassau County shoreline on 18 June were off course. The
> species is entirely absent from this area for years at a time (I'd never
> previously seen even one from shore in Nassau in over twenty years), and
> the sum total of records over all time is vastly lower the numbers seen in
> just a few hours. Thus, their extreme concentration in a small area where
> they are ordinarily completely absent requires explanation. The fact that
> they were starving explains why many birds died, but alone it doesn't
> account for why they were bunched up in the New York Bight, rather than
> dispersing over a broader area of nearby waters they typically inhabit. All
> else equal, in the absence of food, one would expect widely foraging
> pelagic birds either to spread out randomly, or possibly to orient directly
> for traditionally productive areas, such as Block Canyon, Georges Bank,
> etc.--if they could. Food shortage alone doesn't account for the
> unprecedented densities inshore in the New York Bight, unless they were
> actively seeking food in this unusual area, with seems very unlikely. I
> think they were starving, tried to keep moving, and wound up following a
> path of least resistance that brought them to where we encountered them.
> Shai Mitra
> Bay Shore
> ________________________________________
> From: [bounce-121659418-3714944@
>] on behalf of Richard Veit []
> Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2017 3:31 PM
> To: Ardith Bondi
> Cc: NYSBIRDS; eBirdsnyc
> Subject: Re: [nysbirds-l] Fwd: A Mystery of Seabirds, Blown Off Course and
> Starving - The New York Times
> i don't see any evidence of birds being "blown off course".  Starving,
> yes, and this seems likely due to shortage or lack of food, perhaps related
> to changing climate.  But wrecks of great shearwaters of roughly similar
> magnitude have been occurring episodically for years, perhaps moreso in
> Massachusetts than on long island
> On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 12:12 PM, Ardith Bondi <
> <>> wrote:
> --
> NYSbirds-L List Info:
> 1)
> 2)
> 3)
> Please submit your observations to eBird:
> --

Hugh McGuinness
Washington, D.C.


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