Effects of avian flu visible from the air at Rocher aux Oiseaux

Although the photos taken during the flight over the colony are not yet subject to in-depth analysis, the biologist responsible for the inventory, Jean-François Rail, confirmed the impact of the bird flu epidemic. can be easily observed.

2020, qu’il y a des endroits où les densités de nids sont plus faibles, où il semble y avoir des trous dans la colonie”,”text”:”Sur les photos, les effets de la grippe aviaire sont visibles, c’est-à-dire qu’on voit tout de suite en regardant deux secteurs comparables, par rapport aux photos prises lors du dernier inventaire aérien en2020, qu’il y a des endroits où les densités de nids sont plus faibles, où il semble y avoir des trous dans la colonie”}}”>On the photos, the impact of the bird flu can be seen, which means we see it immediately when looking at two comparable areas, compared to photos taken during the aerial inventory. finally in 2020, that there are places with lower nest densities, where there seem to be gaps in the colonyreferring to Mr. Rail, who has been conducting aerial surveys of northern gannets since 1994.

We see a large number of gannet bodies in the photos. Immediately you can see the difference. »

Quote from Jean-François Rail, Seabird Population Biologist, Wildlife Service of Canada

Biologist Jean-François Rail notes that gannets are less than before in certain areas of the island.

Photo: Wildlife Service of Canada

It is too early to accurately quantify the number of gannets still alive in the colony of Magdalen, which formerly had about 25,000 breeding pairs, the second largest in North America after Bonaventure Island.

It will take several weeks of work to analyze the photos and count the exact number of birds on the entire rocky island.

Wildlife Canada has been conducting aerial surveys of the country’s six gannet colonies since 1979 to monitor populations. The first time is done every 5 years, the inventory is done almost every year since 2010 due to difficulties in breeding the species.

The colony was significantly affected, that’s for sure, but it’s not surprising given the number of bodies found on the beaches of the Magdalen Islandsemphasized Mr. Rail.

Map.

Rocher aux Oiseaux is a reserve with an area of ​​0.04 square kilometers. It was once inhabited by lighthouse keepers and their families, but today only birds live here.

Photo: Radio-Canada

More than 5,000 bird carcasses have been recovered (New window) since late May in the archipelago, not to mention 3000 obtained in the Acadian peninsula in New Brunswick.

According to Mr. Rail, it is very likely to happen that a large part of the dead birds found in the Maritime Provinces came from the colony of Magdalen and not from Bonaventure Island, contrary to what the New Brunswick experts have suggested.

Bonaventure par rapport à la situation des îles de la Madeleine, je me doute que les milliers de carcasses trouvées dans les autres provinces de l’Atlantique proviennent surtout de la colonie du rocher aux Oiseaux”,”text”:”Si on regarde le nombre de fous de Bassan morts à l’îleBonaventure par rapport à la situation des îles de la Madeleine, je me doute que les milliers de carcasses trouvées dans les autres provinces de l’Atlantique proviennent surtout de la colonie du rocher aux Oiseaux”}}”>If we look at the number of dead gannets on Bonaventure Island compared to the situation on the Magdalen Islands, I suspect that the thousands of carcasses found in other Atlantic provinces have mostly come from rock-to-bird colonies.he mentioned.

Biologist Jean-François Rail poses for a photo at Bonaventure Island.

Biologist Jean-François Rail has been tracking the evolution of northern gannet colonies since 1994.

Photo: Christine Drouin

Colony of Bonaventure Island is almost intact

Last week, the biologist responsible for seabird populations for Wildlife Canada also flew over Bonaventure Island, off Percé.

According to him on the island of Gaspé, the effects of bird flu are much more subtle, even invisible.

2020, explique M.Rail. Il semble y avoir autant d’oiseaux.”,”text”:”À première vue, sur les photos, il n’y a pas de différence. Du moins, il n’y a rien de facilement perceptible quand on compare les photos prises cette année avec celles du recensement de2020, explique M.Rail. Il semble y avoir autant d’oiseaux.”}}”>At first glance, on the photos, there is no difference. At the very least, nothing is easy to see when comparing this year’s photos with those of the 2020 census, Mr. Rail explained. There seem to be a lot of birds.

We are talking about several hundred dead gannets in a flock of more than 100,000 nesting individuals. There is almost no visual difference. »

Quote from Jean-François Rail, Seabird Population Biologist, Wildlife Service of Canada
Gannet Colony on Bonaventure Island.

The impact of bird flu on Bonaventure Island was much less significant than on Rocher aux Oiseaux (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

The biologist can also explore the colony on foot on Bonaventure Island, as it is much more accessible than Rocher aux Oiseaux, which can only be reached by helicopter and out of the nesting season.

Rail. Pour un touriste qui cherche des signes de grippe aviaire, il n’y a à peu près rien de perceptible.”,”text”:”On voit que la reproduction va bien et que les jeunes oiseaux se font nourrir, souligne M.Rail. Pour un touriste qui cherche des signes de grippe aviaire, il n’y a à peu près rien de perceptible.”}}”>Mr. Rail stressed that spawning was going well and the chicks were being fed. To a traveler looking for signs of avian flu, almost nothing is remarkable.

A virus that affects different colonies

When asked why bird flu did not cause the same effects in the colonies of Magdalen and Gaspé, biologist Jean-François Rail declined to speculate.

“I have no theories about it, it really is a mystery,” he said. The phenomenon is similar for the common arachnid, which was hit hard by avian influenza in the Bas-Saint-Laurent estuary when there was hardly any trace of it in the colonies of the West Coast. North.

Gannets are grouped together.

About 75% of northern North American gannets nest in Quebec, on Bonaventure Island, at Rocher aux Oiseaux in the Madelinot Islands, as well as in a very small colony of Anticosti Island. Newfoundland also had three colonies (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada

This is the first time an avian flu has been observed in wild birds, which also limits answers about the future of weakened flocks.

Rail. La plupart des carcasses ne sont pas fraîches sur les photos, donc les oiseaux ne sont pas morts très récemment. Ça semble avoir été une vague qui est passée de façon assez foudroyante, mais est-ce qu’il va y avoir d’autres vagues, est-ce que ça peut revenir l’an prochain? Ce sont des questions auxquelles je ne peux répondre pour le moment et je pense que personne n’a de réponse.”,”text”:”Ce qui est embêtant avec la grippe aviaire, c’est qu’on ne sait pas comment ça va évoluer, explique Jean-FrançoisRail. La plupart des carcasses ne sont pas fraîches sur les photos, donc les oiseaux ne sont pas morts très récemment. Ça semble avoir été une vague qui est passée de façon assez foudroyante, mais est-ce qu’il va y avoir d’autres vagues, est-ce que ça peut revenir l’an prochain? Ce sont des questions auxquelles je ne peux répondre pour le moment et je pense que personne n’a de réponse.”}}”>Jean-François Rail explains that the frustrating thing with bird flu is that we don’t know how it will progress. Most of the carcasses in the photo aren’t fresh, so the birds haven’t died recently. There seems to have been a wave that passed quite suddenly, but there will be other waves coming, will it come back next year? These are questions that I can’t answer at the moment, and I don’t think anyone has the answers.

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