A highly infectious variant of Avian Flu has diminished the numbers of Northern Gannets and other seabirds that nest on the sea stacks and cliffs at Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland. Staff from the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve told us that there were far fewer birds nesting this year than last year when the flu hit the colonies. And it appeared to me that there were far fewer birds than were there four years ago when I last visited. The good news is that some birds, in particular Northern Gannets, have survived the flu. Studies have shown that when a Northern Gannet survives, its irises turn from the usual bright blue to black. The irises of this bird are black, not the normal blue, indicating it is a survivor. It survived to nest another season along with Razorbills and Kittiwakes also nesting in the rock crevasses.

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