Brutal Winter Leads To Heavy Ice Preventing Fowl From Finding Nourishment

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — One Long Island town is asking its residents to help fatten up flocks of starving black and broadbill ducks.

Southampton Town officials say the harsh winter has incapacitated the fowl. They say the long-term effect on the birds could hamper their annual flight path.

“This winter is somewhat unprecedented in the amount of snow and ice and the frigid temperatures so critical parts of our food chain and eco-chain like the black ducks have been unable to feed themselves,” Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

Heavy ice on the water around Southampton has made it difficult for the ducks to find food.

“We found quite a few of them dead the last two weeks,” bird watcher Craig Kessler told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.

Kessler grew up on Long Island’s south fork. He said the American black duck in particular has been too weak from hunger to begin migrating, TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.

“These birds are just on the verge of moving north and they’ll go all the way to the Canadian provinces to nest. In order for them to do that successfully, they need to have enough nourishment,” Kessler said.

And it’s not just birds. Heather Dune MacAdam of Hampton Bays told Rapoport the frozen waters have been killing off many different species.

“I actually found a horseshoe crab in the ice and I had to walk way out across into the bay to find a place where I could put it back in, because it was so iced up,” MacAdam said.

Southampton town trustees voted to contribute $500 to a fund that will buy 2 million tons of feed for the ducks, Rivera reported. The town is also delivering 3,000 pounds of corn feed to residents to feed the birds.

“It’s exciting to do this to help and give back to the community and the guys here just love it,” volunteer Faith Erwin said.

Resident Nancy Miller said the ducks have been seen around town looking for food.

“They’ve gotten to migrate over to Waldbaums and other places had a few ducks out here in front of the store,” she told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs.

She said the feathered friends are a huge parts of town’s character and charm.

“A lot of the people who come here in the summer come here just to go down there to the park,” she said.

Wildlife experts said the vulnerable duck population is the most in need of protection.

“Hopefully, they’ll return here next fall with the next generation of American black ducks,” Kessler said.

After a long decline, the black duck population has leveled off at about 80,000, Kessler added.

To get feed, residents are asked to call 631-702-2268.

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