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GALVESTON, Texas -- The oil spill in the Houston Ship Channel is already taking a toll on wildlife.

Dead birds soaked in oil have been seenon Galveston's East End near Seawolf Park.

Afewoil-covered birds have been rescued but most of them haven't beencaught yet,according to the Houston Audubon Society.

They've spotteddozens of birdsthat will need help as the oil slowly weakens them.

Though it is still not clear exactly how much oil washed up on beaches along the ship channel, some wildlife experts say it could not have come at a worse time for birds.

It is currently the height of migration season, and the shorebird population has doubled to nearly 120,000.

Oiled birds are showing up at Bolivar Flats, said a spokesman for the Houston Audubon Society. We walked all of the beach in Bolivar Flats and a lot of the North Jetty and found no oil there, so the birds are coming in to roost already oiled. A team from the USFWS will try to capture and clean up oiled birds.

Helen Drummond is the executive director of HAS and said the impact could be felt for decades, if oil seeps into the sand and ultimately disrupts the food chain.

It s a refuge for birds flying over the Gulf during spring migration to retreat and to rest, Drummond said. So we want there to be a healthy and productive place for them to come feed and rest, and having oil on the shoreline is not a healthy and productive place.

If you see an oil-covered bird, don't try to rescue it yourself. Please call 1-888-384-2000 with the location.

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