Oil Spill Wildlife Spotlight: Reddish Egret
“While sailing towards the
It was along the
Audubon had come face-to-face with his first reddish egret, a relative of the heron now finding itself in a precarious position along the
Back when Audubon traversed the Keys, the birds were abundant. Since then, things have changed and could dramatically change again if weather in the
The reddish egret is spread thinly across the coasts of
Although conservation efforts and changes in fashion have helped to revive the egret population, the reddish egret continues to be listed as “red” on the Audubon Watchlist meaning it is a species of global concern with either have rapidly declining populations or very small populations and limited ranges.
The biggest concern for reddish egrets along the
“Any of these birds that are foraging in heavily oiled waters could very easily die,” said Director of Bird Conservation from the National Audubon Society, Greg Butcher. “They could get sick enough not to nest, so there’s a real concern that we’re going to lose a lot of these colonies.”
The booms currently in place should stymie most of the oil, said Butcher, but in the case of a storm, winds could blow oil over the booms and into feeding areas. With hurricane season around the corner, things are looking grim.
“A major storm is going to be the game changer,” said Butcher. “It’s going to take a lot of time and money to stabilize that system and to provide that habitat that’s needed after this. It’s real important to focus a lot of the clean up dollars on long term solutions – just taking the oil out of the system isn’t going to be enough.”