California’s ongoing drought leaves migrating birds with fewer places to land, and threatens their health as they crowd in on one another looking for food and shelter. Julie Noce reports.
California drought threatens habitat of migratory birds
During the Autumn months in California’s Central Valley an eloquent display of nature takes place… (NATS birds)
Migratory waterfowl fly across the skies at sunrise and sunset as they look for a winter home.
This year, however, the states devastating drought is threatening their habitat.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MAMIE STARR, VOLUNTEER WITH CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE, SAYING:
“This is where they come into roost at night, they can’t roost in trees. So the water is extremely important.”
Mamie Starr, a volunteer with the California Department Of Fisheries and Wildlife, said an area of around 300 acres is managed specifically to support Sandhill Cranes- a threatened species.
Refuges like this one receive an annual water ration to flood the lands for the migratory birds.
But this year, state water regulators were forced to cut back the water allocations by up to 45 percent.
Bart McDermott, a manager at a national wildlife refuge says the results could have drastic affects on the Sandhill Crane species.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) BART MCDERMOTT, REFUGE MANAGER, STONE LAKES NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, SAYING:
“When you start to get less wetland habitat across the landscape in the Central Valley, you start to have large accumulations of birds which can cause more opportunity for disease, natural diseases. (cover part of bite) It could have an impact on their breeding success in the summer in the breeding grounds they get to over the summer.”
The weather phenomenon known as El Nino is expected to help ease drought conditions in southern California, which would also provide more wet habitat for the migratory birds.