PORTLAND (AP) – A University of Maine researcher is collecting dead birds in the name of science, and she is asking for help.

Elizabeth Stone, an adjunct professor in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, wants anyone who finds a dead bird to drop it off at one of five collection points around the state.

Donors will be asked to fill out survey forms describing where they found the bird and other details.

Stone will examine them for signs of disease, injury and pesticides. She hopes to build a large database to track trends and spot environmental problems affecting the health of Maine’s birds.

“Most of the time these birds are just thrown away, and they’re potentially sources of very useful information about what’s going on in bird populations,” Stone said.

Stone will accept any birds except crows, jays and ravens, which are routinely collected by the state to test for West Nile virus. The collection points are located in York, Falmouth, Freeport, Augusta and Orono.

A $10,000 grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation, along with smaller amounts from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, are funding Stone’s work.

The Maine Audubon Society in Falmouth, one of the drop-off points, gets hundreds of phone calls every year from people who have found dead woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, owls and other species, said Judy Walker, a naturalist with the group.

Some of the callers are curious about how the birds died, and others want Maine Audubon to take the birds for educational purposes.

“A lot of people call and feel badly that they found this beautiful bird that is dead, and they don’t want it to be wasted,” Walker said.

“They want us to do something with it.”

On the Net:

Avian Health Surveillance Project: http://home.maine.rr.com/cwhr

AP-ES-07-21-04 1115EDT

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