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Oiled birds creeping up on the Bolivar Peninsula
BOLIVAR PENINSULA-By: Leslie Rangel
No oil has been spotted on the beaches of the Bolivar Peninsula.
It has affected birds during the height of their migration season.
A 2,000 acre bird conservation area sits at the end of the peninsula just before the Galveston ferry.
When you drive down the beaches on the Western edge of the Bolivar Peninsula, you don't see the thousands of gallons of oil floating just off its waters.
"We're going to see the extent of oiling on birds that are birds that are roosting out at bolivar flats," Richard Gibbons, Houston Audubon Conservation director says.
Nothing we can see, but take a closer look.
"Wow, look at that laughing gull, first I thought it was a black bellied grovel, but it's all black," Gibbons said.
One of hundreds of birds affected by the oil spill.
"It's yeah out there, that's a mess," Gibbons said.
Back at the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, conservation volunteers have been here since dawn counting birds.
"That bird should be all white underneath and you can see that he's not, he's black underneath so he probably sat in the water and got into the oil," Winnie Burkett, a volunteer for the Houston Audubon says.
This is what the oiled laughing gull looks like up close, this is what it should look like.
"When they clean the oil off their feathers, they ingest it so they swallow it and it goes down into their digestive system," Burkett said.
Bird conservationists say the birds who get oil on their bodies only have a 50 percent chance survival rate, but what they have going for them, check this out, there's no oil on the beaches
"Oil is not something that's in their environment, they don't know how to interact with it, they don't know how to avoid it," Gibbons says.
For now, all the team can do is continue counting as many birds as possible.
"We continue to protect good healthy habitat for birds for their continued existence here," Gibbons said.
An existence the volunteers hope remains free of oil.
The conservation group is not responsible for picking up oiled birds, Texas Parks and Wildlife has special units dedicated to that.
If you see an oiled bird, you're asked not to touch or pick them up.
To help call 888-384-2000.