[CT Birds] In Support of Hurricanes

Mark S. Szantyr Birddog55 at charter.net
Thu Sep 2 20:57:51 EDT 2010

You guys really got me laughing tonight.

Are we really debating  hurricanes?

If anyone out there has the ability to effect this inevitability, please let 
me know...I have a lot of other things I would like you to change.

In the meantime, I am going to be out looking for something cool flying 

I am still chuckling....

Mark S. Szantyr
80 Bicknell Road #9
Ashford, Connecticut 06278

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dennis Varza" <dennisvz at optonline.net>
To: "Posting Bird List" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 5:42 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] In Support of Hurricanes

Hurricanes are a regular natural phenomenon of the Caribbean and the
east coast of North American. Like any other phenomenon the plants
and animals adapt to it, even to the point of needing it. This is not
unlike the need for fires to maintain some western forests. There are
studies showing that native caribbean vegetation survives hurricanes
better than introduced species.

The wind, rain and wave action moves sand, removes vegetation and it
cleans out debris from channels and rivers. In general it resets
habitats to an earlier successional stage. Birds needing such habitat
include Wilson’s and Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher and Least
Terns and Black Skimmers. After several years of without storms the
habitat degrades for the above species and they must move on or the
population declines. In Connecticut we have gone many years without a
hurricane and its cleansing effects. One can see the consequences at
many of our birding spots (if you’ve been around for a while), Long
Beach Stratford, Milford Pt. Milford, Sandy Pt. West Haven   Griswold
Pt. Old Lyme.

The negative reputation of hurricanes is derived from its conflict
with humans. The Atlantic coast in reality is a dynamic system of
mobile barrier beaches, channels, and salt marshes. Humans in an
attempt to utilize them set about to stabilize this fluid system.
Breakwaters and jetties are built, channels dredged, and sand filled
in all in attempt to stop time and tide. The loss of life and
property is a consequence of this attempt. In Fairfield I know of
beach houses with all pilings under water at high tide. Penfield Reef
once was a bar where colonials grazed cattle. I don’t know how many
times sand was dumped in West Haven to replace that which was eroded
away. At one time beach houses ran the length of Long beach from Oak
Bluff Ave. to Pleasure Beach. A hurricane removed the houses and
created a channel into the marsh, you can see this on old maps. In
the early sixties the Army Corps of Engineers closed the channel and
built the jetties. If houses weren’t built in exposed locations then
hurricanes would not be such a problem. Hurricanes may actually
provide opportunities to create more coastal open space as the
government gets tired of subsidizing flood insurance.

Given all the above, another benefit of hurricanes is the birds it
brings. Hurricanes may bring exotic birds, but there is no certainty
as to what gets brought in. The path of the hurricane and time of
year determines what birds get picked up. Where it makes landfall
affects distribution. Sometimes we get exotic pelagics, sometimes an
increased abundance of regular birds, and sometime just a lot of late

Dennis Varza

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