"ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The common murre on Sarah Schoen's examination table lived a short, hungry life.
Measurements of its beak and leg indicated it hatched in June. Its stomach and breast showed how it died. The 3-inch-long stomach was empty, and the pectoral muscles that powered its wings, allowing it to "fly" underwater after forage fish, were emaciated.
"As the bird starves, the body eats the muscle for energy," Schoen said. "The muscle becomes more and more concave."
Schoen, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, and Rob Kaler, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on Friday performed necropsies on common murres, part of an effort by dozens of scientists to explain the massive die-off of common murres that began one year ago."