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Dead & Dying Birds

The Perils of Avian Migration.

It is a fact that millions of  birds die in the Sea throughout the world each year, mainly as a result of exhaustion on migration. Most simply fall into the sea, while others do reach the sanctuary of a vessel or installation but die anyway. Many of these are found by our observers and have great scientific value. Apart from identification, detailed measurements and plumage studies may be carried out while good condition skins and skeletons can be donated to museum collections.

It is also possible to preserve the bodies using a form of home made preservative. These pages were issued in Bird Study back in 1980.

Preserving Bird Bodies Page 1 (JPEG Image)
Preserving Bird Bodies Page 2 (JPEG Image)
Preserving Bird Bodies Page 3 (JPEG Image)


Any corpse can have its uses and if found should be sent as soon as possible to the Recorder. If necessary, freeze the specimen until it can be posted ashore. Care should be taken in the packaging of these specimens as direct contact with plastic or polythene can lead to sweating and in some cases liquidization. A suggested method is to wrap initially in paper towel then in cling film or a plastic bag. Either way these should be leak proof. They can then be placed in a stout envelope or jiffy- bag, padded with newspaper if needs be and clearly labelled before posting. Details accompanying the specimens should state :- Name of Finder, Date and Time, plus Name, Latitude and Longitude of place found.

Prior to despatch please contact me; for instructions of what to do with the package

Alternatively take as many images of the deceased bird as you can. If not immediatley obvious show the relevant identification details. If possible take the measurement of the wing, by straightening the chord (outer edge) and measuring from the carpal joint to the outer promary wing tip.
If possible include a picture of the wing next to thr rule. The general fat and muscle condition of the dead bird can be gauged by gently blowing up the belly of the bird exposing the body beneath the contour feathers. In most birds that have died of exhaustion there will be no evidence of fat or muscle but in those that show obvious signs of fat above the sternum, another cause of death may or may not be evident. Other images of the feet and claws, the head or the wing may also be useful. Please contact the above e-mail address with your images.

Mark C
May 2013

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