Catalog Record: Epidemic of Beak Deformities (Avian Keratin Disorder) among Wild Bird Populations
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Epidemic of Beak Deformities (Avian Keratin Disorder) among Wild Bird Populations

Since January 1998, about 2000 birds of 30 different species have been reported in Alaska with grossly deformed beaks. Most sightings have been concentrated in south-central Alaska but recently a smaller cluster of observations has been reported from the Pacific Northwest (notably Puget Sound area). Outside of Alaska, we have received about 300 reports of individuals of over 80 species of wild birds with similarly deformed beaks scattered across North America. In Alaska, prevalence of these abnormalities appears to be highest among black-capped chickadees and various corvid species, including northwestern crows, Stellar’s jays and black-billed magpies. The geographic distribution of deformities and high prevalence among resident birds suggest an acute, ecosystem-wide problem, but the cause and geographic origin of deformities are still unknown. In this research project we are tracking the spatial and temporal distribution of the deformities across North America, documenting the species affected, determining effects of the deformities on reproduction and survival, and testing for contaminants, disease, parasites, nutritional imbalances, and other factors as potential causes.


Data and Resources

  • View website

    Website :: Alaska Bird Beak Deformities


  • View website

    Website :: Epidemic of Beak Deformities (Avian Keratin Disorder) among Wild Bird Populations


Status: Ongoing
Start Date: 2005/01/01
Type: Project
End Date: 2015/12/31
Data Types: Other
Primary Contacts
Name: Colleen Handel
Email: cmhandel@usgs.gov
Other Contacts
Name: Caroline Van Hemert
Title: Research Wildlife Biologist
Email: cvanhemert@usgs.gov
Primary Organizations
US Geological Survey

Kenai Peninsula

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