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Mysterious Bird Deaths Near Ocean Beach

Shawn Steele, a birding enthusiast who lives near Robb Field, was driving across the Sunset Cliffs Bridge on the afternoon of December 7 when he saw an osprey carcass in the road.

“It did not look like it was hit by a car,” Steele said. “No loose feathers. I stopped my car and got a good look at it and could not tell the cause of death.”

On December 14, Sarah Whorley of Project Wildlife said the animal rescue group took in an osprey that appeared to have died earlier that day near a roost by San Diego Bay.

“We scanned the body for metal and didn’t find any,” Whorley said in an email. The osprey “was bleeding from its mouth, but this could be indicative of any number of injuries.”

The two recent osprey deaths come after a dead osprey with a dart in its chest was found this summer, also on Sunset Cliffs Bridge.

“In the ten years I have been birding in the area, I have seen a total of two dead birds in the river,” Steele said. “In the last month, I have found ten,” including “three western grebes, one bufflehead, one Pacific loon and three seagulls.”

Pictured: Osprey nest near Sunset Cliffs Bridge, 2009

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Touched By An Angel

Shawn Steele, a birding enthusiast who lives near Robb Field, was driving across the Sunset Cliffs Bridge on the afternoon of December 7 when he saw an osprey carcass in the road.

“It did not look like it was hit by a car,” Steele said. “No loose feathers. I stopped my car and got a good look at it and could not tell the cause of death.”

On December 14, Sarah Whorley of Project Wildlife said the animal rescue group took in an osprey that appeared to have died earlier that day near a roost by San Diego Bay.

“We scanned the body for metal and didn’t find any,” Whorley said in an email. The osprey “was bleeding from its mouth, but this could be indicative of any number of injuries.”

The two recent osprey deaths come after a dead osprey with a dart in its chest was found this summer, also on Sunset Cliffs Bridge.

“In the ten years I have been birding in the area, I have seen a total of two dead birds in the river,” Steele said. “In the last month, I have found ten,” including “three western grebes, one bufflehead, one Pacific loon and three seagulls.”

Pictured: Osprey nest near Sunset Cliffs Bridge, 2009

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2

If anybody out there has money, please offer a reward for information on this case. Those ospreys are beautiful and harm no one. They are an indication of the environmental health of the lower San Diego River eco-system. Some yahoo driving by probably thought he could target practice on the birds. Keep your eyes open, people! If I ever find out who did this, I have some special target practice I'd like to do!

Dec. 20, 2011

More through necroscopies need to be done, and they should be checked for West Nile virus and perhaps other bird-born viruses and diseases. Just visually checking is not enough, nor is using a metal detector. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Conclusions cannot be drawn from such, despite the prevalence of the practice.

Dec. 22, 2011

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