BP Oil Spill Could Mean Bad News for 13 Million Migrating Ducks

What might happen to the millions of wintering waterfowl that will be arriving along the gulf coast this fall. How bad might it be for them? Probably very bad indeed.

From this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
In two months, blue-winged teal will begin leaving Minnesota for the coastal marshes of Louisiana and other points south. Within weeks afterward, wood ducks will join the autumn migration, followed by many of the other duck species that nest in the North but spend their winter months along the Gulf Coast. What exactly awaits these birds is unknown. But for the 13 million ducks and another 1.5 million geese that historically have used Louisiana's coastal marshes either for the entire winter or a portion thereof, it likely won't be good.

Worst-case scenario: Oil continues to flow from BP's deepwater well off the coast of Louisiana, and tropical storms and perhaps hurricanes this summer and/or early fall would push the crude not only into barrier saltwater and brackish marshes, but also farther inland, into freshwater marshes and ponds. This would kill not only ducks and other birds, but despoil crucial habitats, perhaps for generations. Worse, it's possible that oil flowing from the well won't be staunched for many months. Or even, as was the case in Mexico in 1979, for up to a year. If so, thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands, or even more - of ducks, geese and other migrants, including shorebirds, could be killed this fall.