British shearwater, duck rehabilitation successes


Manx shearwater

From Wildlife Extra:

Hundreds of birds saved in two dramatic rescues

Seabirds blown off course, ducks covered in diesel…

October 2011: A RSPCA wildlife centre came to the rescue twice in a row after two separate incidents left unprecedented numbers of birds in need of help.

Just two weeks after hundreds of seabirds were blown off course by freak weather conditions, hundreds of ducks were affected by a toxic diesel spill.

In both cases, a large number of the birds were taken to West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset where they were treated and the vast majority saved.

More than 400 manx shearwaters were brought into the centre at the end of August after they had been blown inland by strong winds as they began their migration to the South America.

More than 90 per cent survived

An amazing 93 per cent were rehabilitated and swiftly released back into the wild after staff at the centre joined forces with field staff from around the country to give the seabirds the specialised care they needed.

If the birds had not been rescued they were at risk to predators, the weather, shock and hypothermia. Instead the birds were fit and well enough to be released in batches over subsequent days so that they could continue their winter journey.

Just days later, the centre received a call about 250 birds from a private collection in Port Talbot in Wales which had been rescued by RSPCA inspectors after being covered in diesel oil from a generator. They were mostly ornamental ducks and some geese and it is believed they were contaminated after thieves tried to steal the diesel.

Diesel can be lethal

The prognosis was grim due to lethal damage diesel can do but again staff worked through the night to wash and rehabilitate the birds, so that 85 per cent could be returned to Wales .

Peter Venn, manager at West Hatch, said: ‘To have so many birds come into us in such a precarious state and then released so successfully would have been amazing if it had happened just once.

‘For two such cases happen in such quick succession was incredible and I am delighted that the hard work put in by our staff, and that of the many helping hands who came so promptly to help us, paid off.

‘Manx shearwaters are not easy to keep in captivity and it was crucial to get them back out in the wild so quickly, so they could continue their migration. I was very concerned about the ducks, as diesel burns very quickly and can have devastating effects.

‘There were lots of tired faces around the centre, but it was all worthwhile for the sense of achievement of helping so many birds on their way.’

Manx shearwater in the Netherlands: here.

From flash floods in Minnesota to tropical storms in Florida to wildfires in Colorado, summer is the season of uncertain weather. Severe storms and other natural disasters can drastically impact birds, particularly during the breeding season. But what’s a birder to do? Here.

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4 thoughts on “British shearwater, duck rehabilitation successes

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