Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seabird Rescue!

Look what the storm brought in! 


My new friend and I go for a truck ride.
Life at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is largely unpredictable, and often chaotic. Inspiring conservation of the Salish Sea is a BIG job and it turns out there are A LOT of ways to do it. Today I helped save a seabird and I'm writing this blog to inspire you to save future ones- and their homes too. 

This striking penguin-like seabird in my lap is a Common Murre. Earlier today a woman braved the wind and rain to bring the bird to us in hopes we would be able to help. She had found him (or her) on a nearby beach, unable to fly and looking tired. We have no idea how to care for birds, but we know someone who does! We called our friend Cindy Daily at Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue (360-379-0802), who's always eager to save a feathery friend. 

While we waited to hear back from Cindy, Chrissy and I went about finishing up our tasks. After all, we had not allotted time in our schedules for bird-sitting and still had to clean up after a day full of harbor seal necropsies (more on that later). We planned to leave the bird in a box lined with a comfy towel, but he kept poking his head out the top and attempting to escape. It was time for Plan B. I tucked him into my jacket and whispered sweet nothings to him as I went about putting things away. 


Getting cozy.
Too soon, Cindy called and it was time to bring my new friend into rehab. We met at the Safeway parking lot to make the exchange. I fought back the urge to ask 'can I keep him?' (it wasn't easy). Instead, I asked what she thought had happened, since I couldn't see any obvious injuries. I was startled by what she told me.

On windy days when the seas get really wavy, contaminants in the water get stirred up. Some types of contaminants, like petroleum or vegetable oils, destroy the insulating capacity of bird feathers. If a seabird like our Common Murre swims through an area with these types of contaminants, they risk death by hypothermia because they can't keep warm. Sometimes a 'de-insulated' seabird winds up on shore, usually cold and exhausted. However, with time, food, and TLC, rehabers are able to save these birds. But only if people bring them in! 

Here's what you should do:


  1. If you suspect a bird is 'de-insulated', capture it! It should be fairly easy. Use a towel, blanket, or jacket to cover him up and keep that sharp beak away from your eyeballs. If the bird flies away at a million miles a minute, it probably wasn't de-insulated.
  2. Put the bird in a box.
  3. Call Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue at 360-379-0802. You could do this first if you are unsure what to do in-the-moment.


Of course the ideal solution to this problem would be to remove all of the troublesome contaminants from the ocean so that seabirds (and everything else) wouldn't be threatened by their presence. Maybe that's not possible, but it's sure worth shooting for.   

Farewell wild one. I forgive you for jabbing me.
Baby steps. Today we helped save a seabird that had been hurt by something people did. Sure, it's not a big difference in terms of the Salish Sea, but it's a big difference for this bird. Thinking about the small things we accomplish on a daily basis allows me to sleep peacefully at night. 

I have high hopes for our little black and white amigo. Thank you mysterious lady who brought him in, huddled in your blanket. You've inspired me!   


*Special note: Cindy Daily is a licensed reahabilitator. It is illegal for the general public to posses a wild bird except for short-term care prior to transporting it to a rehab facility. 
 
Here's a pigeon we brought to Cindy's rehab center a couple weeks ago.
 He had an injury to his neck and crop, but is recovering nicely! 


Thanks for reading!

Danae Presler
AmeriCorps
Marine Mammal Stranding Network Educator
   

   




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