By: Pat Coate
During our unusually harsh winter in Western New York open water for ducks and gulls was hard to come by. Dunkirk Harbor on Lake Erie usually has a good bit of open water due to warm water discharge from the nearby power plant. But with the prolonged cold spell even the harbor had very limited open water this year, making competition for food fierce.
Due to limited food sources, a large number of ducks were not able to survive the winter. Numerous birders reported emaciated, weakened ducks along roadways and near frozen water sources; and at the Dunkirk Harbor sights like the above greater scaup were, unfortunately, common. We are not out of the woods yet with cold weather but hopefully the few warm days we’ve had have opened up area lakes enough for local, wintering and migrating waterfowl to find adequate food.
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