Toxic Runoff from Yards Killing Baby Birds

April 27  —

Dave Thomas, an SKA member and volunteer with Save Our Seabirds, has reported the following sad condition on Siesta Key. 

It’s baby bird season. We have spent several hours of today, rescuing baby ducks from several locations in the Grand Canal. They were separated from their mother and their siblings – struggling and alone. We found the mother and tried to reunite them, but the mother ignored them and they did not eagerly rejoin their family. Mama already knew that they couldn’t make it. I took them to Save Our Seabirds and the sad story is that they all died within a few hours. The cause was toxicity, according to the veterinary technician on duty. You can tell because they start twisting their head backwards and tend to turn on their side or upside down. We have seen these little ones in a group of about 10 ducklings eagerly swimming after their mother over the past few days. What did they eat or were they exposed to that could cause this ? And then it became obvious – very heavy rain yesterday causing runoff directly into the canal. Baby ducklings are constantly drinking, so they would be ingesting the canal water which was freshly polluted with runoff from our properties. I am a volunteer rescuer for Save Our Seabirds, and I have seen this happen before to a family of baby ducklings who were in a salt water swimming pool, doing fine for a couple of days, but then the pool man came and dumped chemicals in the water that day. Shortly after that, the homeowner called for a rescue of the dying ducks. I caught the remaining live ones and dowsed them with fresh water from a garden hose, but none of them made it. So many of us use chemicals on our lawns and strong pesticides in our yards. Larger animals have a better chance of withstanding the chemical onslaught, but babies are too fragile and get overwhelmed and die.

Please consider carefully what chemicals you are putting on the ground, especially now when the babies are small. The Grand Canal does not flush hardly at all, and I believe a large portion of it is considered officially stagnant, so there is no mitigating or diluting effect when things like RoundUp, etc. are washed into the canal by rain. These ducks are only one example. Please help protect our wildlife. AND, birds are not the only things in the water – children swimming, paddleboarders, kayakers, small boats, the fish we catch and eat – all are exposed as well.” 

Please be mindful of what you put on your yard.  It does not stay there.  Thank you Dave.  Sorry, no happy bird pictures here.