Billions of birds -- some from your backyard -- face risks this fall

Fall bird migration is beginning, and experts worry about what conditions in the Gulf region after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill will mean for the billions of birds from all over the Eastern and Central United States that travel through that area and depend on it for sustenance as they make their yearly journey to winter grounds there, or onward into Central and South America.

"It’s hard to think of a species of migrating bird east of the Rockies that doesn’t fly though the Gulf," says Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind, a powerful compendium of bird migrations. "And these birds, already stressed, are going to be flying into uncertainty."

Migration is always a gambit, a time when everything has to go right, including the building up of body fat from high-quality food sources that birds find at certain stopover points. For a discussion on the danger to autumn's migrating birds, see Invisible Disaster on the Natural Resources Defense Council's On Earth Web page.

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