As a post-script to the Great Shearwater story, a colleague from the North 
Carolina Museum informed me that the wreck extended to that state. One rehabber 
there took in 80 birds.

[] On Behalf Of Tshrike19
Sent: Monday, July 17, 2017 1:49 PM
Subject: [nysbirds-l] Fwd: A Mystery of Seabirds, Blown Off Course and Starving 
- The New York Times

Hi All,

As Derek mentioned in a previous post, the coastal low pressure system that set 
up from the night of the 6/17 through the 19th, resulted in a strong and 
persistent onshore wind, as well as strong gusts.  This system resulted in 
strong southeast flow from new England all the way to key west (I was there at 
the time), these conditions can certainly help concentrate seabirds inshore 
where they are typically more scarce.   In addition, as also mentioned, there 
is an abundance of bait offshore.  Many of the charter and head boat captains 
I've chatted with (in NJ though) have mentioned the abundance of sand eels 
offshore, with fluke being caught on some of the Montauk boats spitting up sand 
eels on deck and some of the charters going for tuna seeing bait balls of sand 
eels.    It's probable that large numbers of Shearwaters were already offshore 
due to food availability with the weather system helping to concentrate them 
inshore.   If so much food is available offshore, why does it appear many are 
starving is a question though, and we can only speculate as to what may be 
causing this.   Perhaps some of these birds arrived in the NY Bight in bad 
shape already and didn't have the energy to actively forage (sick from a virus, 
toxin load from algae??).  Was anyone able to age the birds they were finding 
dead, or will the folks who are receiving the dead shearwaters be able to 
provide an age breakdown?  Mortality tends to be high in first of year birds, 
if there was a high percentage of young birds in this unusual concentration off 
long Island it wouldn't be unusual finding a number of dead birds (with an 
onshore wind to bring the dead and dying to shore).   A fact of nature is that 
seabirds sometimes wreck in large numbers, it's been happening long before we 
were around.

tom brown

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