Oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill covers the breast of a royal tern chick recently hatched on Raccoon Island in a picture taken last week. Royal terns leave their nests within a day of hatching, which means the young birds may quickly encounter oil that's been washed ashore.
Part of Louisiana's Terrebonne Parish, the island is a protected sanctuary for breeding seabirds, including royal terns, sandwich terns, and brown pelicans.
(See also: "Gulf Oil Cleanup Crews Trample Nesting Birds.")
Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at the Cornell bird lab, told the Associated Press that the Gulf oil spill is "more insidious" than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, "because it is literally happening in waves, and it's happening over and over again as the birds are moving around."