Beach bird study, July 17, 2010. Gulf Shores, Alabama
The Beach Bird Study is an effort by biologists to estimate of how many birds found in coastal beach areas are injured or killed as a result of the BP Oil Spill.

Under the Oil Protection Act, BP is responsible for restoring damage to natural resources, including fish and wildlife, resulting from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. One of the key issues is measuring the impact of the spill so an appropriate amount of restoration can be done. Obviously bird deaths happen for reasons other than oil spills, what biologists refer to as “background” mortality, so it’s important to draw a distinction between this background rate and deaths from the spill.

Starting the second week of May, biologists started counting numbers of bird carcasses of various species that had accumulated on beaches in the Gulf region. Thus far, more than 100 Service biologists from across the country have rotated into the effort, collecting data from 22 study sites from Texas to the east coast of Florida. Comparing data against a baseline generated from surveys taken on clean beaches and early in the spill will begin to provide the scientists with a picture of how many birds are dying as a result of the catastrophe.

Ultimately this information will guide efforts to restore the Gulf's bird populations.
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