Why are some breeds of ducks dying?

Updated: 03/05/2014 5:27 PM
Created: 03/05/2014 4:53 PM WHEC.com
By: Josh Nichols

It is a mystery on the shores of Lake Ontario and other water sources. Why are some breeds ducks dying? Is it the arctic weather or something else?

Everyone has had to deal with the brutal cold this winter. For wildlife, the cold weather has made it challenging for all specific seeking out food. But for some species of ducks, this winter has proved to be particularly challenging and in many cases, deadly.

Most of these ducks are species of fowl with small mouths whose primary source of food is small fish, particularly minnows that thrive in waters that are shallow. In the Rochester area, the ducks that are in distress are the red breasted merganser. Ornithologists, like June Summers of the Genesee Valley Audubon Society, have noticed a trend where these birds are leaving Lake Ontario’s waters for other areas, like roads and then simply dying. It’s happening in others parts of western New York and Canada as well. The question now is why?

June Summers, Genesee Valley Audubon Society, said, “For the most part, they seem to be in pretty good health, but like everyone else, they are very stressed by this cold weather and they could be having a difficult time finding food. We're just not sure yet. Because of the types of ducks they are, they might have a preference for eating one certain type of food and they are not finding it.”

Up on Lake Ontario Wednesday, there were no ducks to be found. There have been reports, however, of a breed of diving duck being rescued near the lake and then taken to wildlife rehabs at local animal hospitals.

As for those ducks that have died, ornithologists are still awaiting the test results on their remains to determine whether or not it's the cold weather that's restricted the food supply so much that the birds are starving or if it's something else that's killing these birds.  

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