Avian influenza update, Alaska

Several years ago, Dan Gibson and I published a paper on Asian birds coming to North America through Alaska entitled “The Asia-to-America Influx of Avian Influenza Wild Bird Hosts Is Large.”  In this paper we reversed the conclusions of a popular model of the global spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). We suggested that wild birds are a greater risk than domestic poultry for bringing HPAI into North America. Since then, our model proved the more accurate, presaging the arrival in North America in fall 2014 of a pure Asian strain of H5N2. Wild birds were implicated, and we inferred passage through Alaska. This strain of HPAI went on to cause the worst poultry disease outbreak in U.S. history, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses.
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Love Notes for Dead Birds 5

Condition: “Super Excellent”.

Except, you know, for the fact that it’s dead…

Condition given as "Super Excellent," overlooking the fact that the bird is quite dead.

Condition given as “Super excellent,” overlooking that the bird is in fact quite dead.

About the Love Notes for Dead Birds: We receive a lot of birds that people find dead and route to us through places like wildlife agencies, rehabilitation clinics, etc. What makes these specimens scientifically useful is to write the location and date down with the bird and freeze it until it can be gotten to us. People often write a little more than necessary, and we’re pleased to share some of those.

Love Notes for Dead Birds 4

It came bringing the dove of peace and killed itself against a window. Oh, and the “dove” was a European Starling.
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About the Love Notes for Dead Birds posts: We receive a lot of birds that people find dead and route to us through places like wildlife agencies, rehabilitation clinics, etc. What makes these specimens scientifically useful is to write the location and date down with the bird and freeze it until it can be gotten to us. People often write a little more than necessary, and we’re pleased to share some of those.

Love Notes for Dead Birds 3

We receive a lot of birds that people find dead and route to us through places like wildlife agencies, rehabilitation clinics, etc. What makes these specimens scientifically useful is to write the location and date down with the bird and freeze it until it can be gotten to us. People often write a little more than necessary, and we’re pleased to share some of those.
Continue reading

Love Notes for Dead Birds 2

We receive a lot of birds that people find dead and route to us through places like wildlife agencies, rehabilitation clinics, etc. What makes these specimens scientifically useful is to write the location and date down with the bird and freeze it until it can be gotten to us. People often write a little more than necessary, and we’re pleased to share some of those.
Continue reading

Love Notes for Dead Birds

We receive a lot of birds that people find dead and route to us through places like wildlife agencies, rehabilitation clinics, etc. What makes these specimens scientifically useful is to write the location and date down with the bird and freeze it until it can be gotten to us. People often write a little more than necessary, and we’re pleased to share some of those.
Continue reading

Brina Kessel (1925 – 2016)

Brina was a true scientific pioneer, and she blazed a bold new trail in Alaska ornithology for succeeding generations. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with her and am proud to try to carry on in her tradition. KW.

(Brina’s brother Quentin wrote the following obituary. A salutory article from 2007 and a partial list of Brina’s publications by Dan Gibson follows that.)
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The 2016 Checklist of Alaska Birds

It’s going to be a great year! Get out and enjoy the birds of Alaska with a copy of the authoritative checklist. You can get a copy by clicking at right or here.

As of January 2016 the total number of species known to have occurred in Alaska is now 510. The five added to the Alaska list in 2015 were: Continue reading