An excellent article in the Chicago Tribune recently regarding this winter’s deep freeze effect on wintering waterfowl.
In short, it’s been one heck of a two month struggle for even the hardiest Great Lakes wintering divers – mergansers (mostly Red-breasted), scaup, Redhead, Canvasback, scoters (White-winged) among others – because of extremely cold temps holding a deep freeze and consistently frozen lake. Lake Erie’s wintering birds have not been spared, save for those that found refuge on a few open stretches of the Cuyahoga River and small slivers of open water on the Lake and coast guard ice-breaker leads in harbors.
The sight is gut-wrenching to witness, even for those that fully understand “survival of the fittest” in all of its real & present natural beauty, necessity and utter brutality.
The following photos, taken today off the East 9th street pier in downtown Cleveland, are just a small look into the sheer numbers of birds that have struggled and expired from the winter 2014 Lake Erie deep freeze. In one small stretch of lakefront from Wendy Park to East 9th, 143 dead mergansers and 76 dead American Coots. Gabe Leidy reports another 50+ dead mergansers and a White-winged Scoter from Avon Lake Powerplant today. Photos by Jen Brumfield, March 15, 2014.