Bird strandings and bright lights at coastal and offshore industrial sites in Atlantic Canada

Authors: Carina Gjerdrum et al

Year: 2021

Publication: Avian Ecology and Conservation

Publication Link:

Keywords: Atlantic Canada; groundings; Leach’s Storm-Petrel; light attraction; marine birds; radiance; stranded birds

Abstract: Artificial lights can disorient birds and lead to injury or death. In Atlantic Canada, lights attract birds at sites along the
coastline and offshore, but the relative impacts of lights on birds in this region are largely unknown. We summarized data on stranded
bird encounters submitted annually to the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and quantified light
radiance values at a selection of industrial sites in the region. Stranded birds were reported from offshore oil and gas production
platforms, support vessels, and seismic ships, and from onshore oil and gas refineries and construction facilities. Leach’s Storm-Petrel
(Hydrobates leucorhoa) was the most abundant bird species to be stranded: most were found alive offshore Newfoundland and Labrador,
and were subsequently released. Landbirds dominated the stranded bird reports from Nova Scotia. Offshore platforms in Newfoundland
and Labrador were brighter than onshore sites, and were brighter than platforms located in Nova Scotia, particularly during the Leach’s
Storm-Petrel breeding season, in part due to flaring activity. Stranding events were more likely during nights with little or no moonlight,
but systematic searches for stranded birds, with documentation of search effort by trained personnel, are needed to better understand
how light characteristics, weather, and the location of sites influence strandings, and to monitor the effectiveness of light mitigation.
Minimizing the threat of light attraction for declining populations of Leach’s Storm-Petrels in the Atlantic is of particular importance
given the species’ current conservation status.

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