<p><strong>A brown pelican on Raccoon Island, <a id="abw9" title="Louisiana" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/united-states/louisiana-guide/">Louisiana</a>, extends wings coated with oil in a picture taken last week by researchers with the <a id="mfua" title="Cornell Lab of Ornithology" href="http://www.birds.cornell.edu/netcommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1478">Cornell Lab of Ornithology</a>. According to the team, what they saw on the island this month represents the worst damage yet to a major bird colony due to the <a id="g4bg" title="Gulf of Mexico oil spill" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/gulf-oil-spill-news/">Gulf of Mexico oil spill</a>.<br></strong><br> Raccoon Island is a barrier island that's home to the largest <a id="n9q1" title="shorebird" href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/photos/shorebird-photos/#american-avocet-pair-nest_12933_600x450.jpg">shorebird</a> nesting colonies in Louisiana. During a June trip, the Cornell team reported that the region seemed unaffected by oil from the Gulf spill, which began with the sinking of the <em>Deepwater Horizon</em> rig in late April.<br><br> But during a return trip in mid-July, the team encountered "devastation"—almost all the juvenile brown pelicans previously observed had been oiled to some degree, with roughly 10 percent "badly oiled," according to a Cornell-issued press release.<br><br> (See <a id="wmmf" title="Gulf Oil spill pictures: &quot;Birds, Fish, Crabs Coated.&quot;" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/photogalleries/100608-gulf-oil-spill-environment-birds-animals-pictures/#gulf-oil-spill-killing-wildlife-brown-pelican-wings_21352_600x450.jpg">Gulf oil spill pictures: "Birds, Fish, Crabs Coated."</a>)</p><p><em>—Korena Di Roma</em></p>

Oil Spill "Devastation"

A brown pelican on Raccoon Island, Louisiana, extends wings coated with oil in a picture taken last week by researchers with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. According to the team, what they saw on the island this month represents the worst damage yet to a major bird colony due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Raccoon Island is a barrier island that's home to the largest shorebird nesting colonies in Louisiana. During a June trip, the Cornell team reported that the region seemed unaffected by oil from the Gulf spill, which began with the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in late April.

But during a return trip in mid-July, the team encountered "devastation"—almost all the juvenile brown pelicans previously observed had been oiled to some degree, with roughly 10 percent "badly oiled," according to a Cornell-issued press release.

(See Gulf oil spill pictures: "Birds, Fish, Crabs Coated.")

—Korena Di Roma

Photograph courtesy Gerrit Vyn, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Pictures: Oil "Devastated" Major Gulf Nesting Site

Only a month after teams reported the area free from oil, Raccoon Island, home to the largest waterbird nesting colonies in Louisiana, has been "devastated" by the Gulf spill.

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