About one in 16 crows and black-capped chickadees suffer from a condition called avian keratin disorder, which causes their beaks to become morbidly elongated and crossed.Unlike past outbreaks of beak-deformity epidemics caused by toxins and heavy metals contamination of the environment, which occurred in clusters, this one is widespread and affects species living in different habitats.
Rates of the debilitating disorder are 10 times higher than usual. That’s higher than has ever been recorded in any wild-bird population, and most of this rise happened over the last decade. Dozens of other bird species are afflicted. Nobody knows why, but it’s probably not a good sign.
Birders in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest are being asked to report any sightings they might make of beak deformities.
(Links thanks to Eileen Gunn.)