Increasing numbers of brown Pelican, Louisiana’s state bird, are being coated in oil, their feathers matted and separate, leaving them vulnerable to heat and cold.
Rescue teams are doing what they can to save oil-soaked birds and clean them up. But the huge slick is edging closer to vital nesting and breeding grounds.
Latest figures show 547 birds across the Gulf Coast have been collected dead, although not all showed signs of contact with oil. Experts say some just sink under the water and will never be counted.
The spill’s ultimate toll won’t be known for some time. For example, some rehabilitated birds may survive but might never breed again.